AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Oiled seabirds and turtles may have been the dominant images of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but new research indicates there was also massive harm to microscopic creatures in coastal sands, lasting months after beaches appeared superficially clean.
Ken Halanych, professor of Biological Sciences at Auburn University and co-author of the study explained that communities of small organisms that live in the sediment and between sand grains underwent dramatic shifts after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil spill, research by Auburn University’s Molette Biology Laboratory for Environmental and Climate Change Studies has shown. Analysis of five sites along the Alabama Coast before, and several months after, oiling, is reported in the June 6, 2012 issue of the journal PLoS ONE (http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0038550).
AUBURN – The April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the waves of tar balls deposited on the beaches shortly thereafter prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to produce a tar ball fact sheet. Among the factoids was one stating that those sticky, coin-sized clumps of weathered oil, though unsightly and annoying, are not a human health hazard.
But new research findings out of Auburn University indicate that tar balls are reservoirs for a multitude of bacteria, including at least one pathogen that can cause life-threatening sickness in some humans.
AUBURN – Auburn University biological sciences professor Ken Halanych will participate in a public community forum on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and what scientists are learning about its impact on Saturday, Dec. 3, from 10 a.m. to noon.
The forum will be held by teleconference from Dauphin Island Sea Lab Shelby Center at 101 Bienville Blvd., Dauphin Island, Ala.; Auburn High School at 405 S. Dean Road, Auburn, Ala.; and Southern Environmental Center at Birmingham Southern College, 900 Arkadelphia Road, Birmingham, Ala. All sites will be networked and audiences will be able to hear from and ask questions of the scientists at each location.
AUBURN – Auburn University civil engineering faculty members have completed a preliminary study related to tar balls found on Alabama’s beaches after Tropical Storm Lee.
Prabhakar Clement, Feagin professor, Joel Hayworth, associate research professor and Vanisree Mulabagal, research associate, of the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering, found that the chemical signature of tar mat fragments that appeared on Alabama’s beaches after Tropical Storm Lee in early September, is essentially the same as that of the oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon event that impacted Alabama’s beaches in June 2010.
The study also indicates that oil submerged offshore has not substantially changed, from a chemical perspective, from that of the oil which arrived on the beach more than a year prior. It shows that the tar mat samples are indeed related to the BP Deepwater Horizon event. Submerged oil may continue to pose some level of long-term risk to near-shore ecosystems.
View the team’s study at http://eng.auburn.edu/files/acad_depts/civil/oil-spill-research.pdf.
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