Research group heads back to Gulf for further assessment of oil spill effects

Research group heads back to Gulf for further assessment of oil spill effects

HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - This is a news release from The University of Southern Mississippi.

A team comprised of University of Georgia researchers and colleagues in the ECOGIG -- Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf -- Research Consortium has neared the midway point in a three-and-half-week-long research cruise on board the R/V Endeavor, a vessel owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by the University of Rhode Island.

The team took a short break on Monday to host a media and education day Gulfport, Miss. Following that interlude the research cruise will resume in the Gulf of Mexico as the team continues to assess the ecological impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon accident. Over a period of 84 days, the Macondo well site discharged 210 million gallons of oil and more than 175,000 metric tons of methane gas into the Gulf.

The cruise will allow the scientists to collect water column and sediment samples at Macondo impacted sites, other anthropogenically impacted sites, natural hydrocarbon seeps and control sites to track Macondo impacts and compare the processes observed in Macondo-influenced areas to natural seeps and control sites.

The media and education day, which coincides with World Oceans Day, took place dockside at the R/V Endeavor in the Port of Gulfport. The R/V Point Sur (owned by The University of Southern Mississippi) was also in port for the event.

The ceremony included a press briefing, ship tour, opportunities to interview the scientists and a World Oceans Day activity with children from the local Boys and Girls Clubs, who toured the ships, learned about marine science and participated in a hands-on activity with model remotely operated vehicles used in deep sea research.

The ECOGIG consortium is led by project director Samantha Joye, professor of marine sciences at the University of Georgia and leading scientist in Gulf of Mexico ecosystem research. The chief scientist on this research cruise is Joe Montoya of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

ECOGIG is a research consortium investigating the impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on deepwater ecosystems of the Gulf of Mexico. ECOGIG is one of 12 research consortia funded under the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. GoMRI is a 20-member independent research board created to allocate funds committed by BP for independent research programs following the April 20, 2010, Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion and subsequent Macondo well blowout.

For more information about the research vessels, see http://techserv.gso.uri.edu/ and https://www.usm.edu/marine/rv-point-sur.