New study gives final estimate of Deepwater Horizon footprint

By on October 7, 2013


A recent scientific paper indicates that the ecosystem affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may not recover for decades, NOAA reported.

The paper explains the effects of the spill on the Gulf’s deep water communities and its soft-sediment habitats. While most offshore drilling pollutes 300-600 yards from the site, the 2010 spill spread two miles from the wellhead, with impacts reported up to 10 miles away. The biodiversity of meiofauna, small aquatic invertebrates, has been severely reduced in the area.

The oil spill and resulting plume were measured through a combination of classical statistical techniques and innovate mapping technologies. The final footprint was measured at 360 square miles around the wellhead, with the most biological damage occurring at 9 square miles.

Image: A satellite image of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (Credit: NASA)

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