Investigating the effect of oil spills
on the environment and public health.
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Funding Source: Year One Block Grant - The Alabama Marine Environmental Science Consortium

Project Overview

Determining the Degradation Rate Constants of the Hydrocarbons from the Macondo Well and Weathered Oil in Alabama Beaches and Marshes

Principal Investigator
The University of Alabama
Department of Biological Sciences
Member Institutions
Dauphin Island Sea Lab (DISL), The University of Alabama


We hypothesized that hydrocarbon degradation rates in sandy sediments will be enhanced by increases in organic matter input.

To investigate this hypothesis we took a three-prong approach:

  1. Determining the seasonal distribution of hydrocarbon degrading bacterial in Alabama coastal waters.  
  2. The impact of inorganic nutrient additions on hydrocarbon degradation rates in sandy sediments.  To do so we assessed the degradation of hydrocarbons in mesocosm experiments with differing fuel amounts (2,000 and 4,000 mg/kg) and with or without inorganic nutrient amendment.
  3. Enhancements in hydrocarbon degradation rates in response to organic matter additions.

This research was made possible by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.