Investigating the effect of oil spills
on the environment and public health.
revert menu
Funding Source: Year 6-8 Investigator Grants (RFP-V)

Project Overview

Deep-sea Risk Assessment and species sensitivity to WAF, CEWAF and Dispersant

Principal Investigator
Texas A&M University
Geochemical and Environmental Research Group
Member Institutions
Nova Southeastern University, Texas A&M University


The ability to use dispersants as an oil spill response option may provide significant benefits in cases when other response techniques have reduced efficiency. Subsea injection of dispersants offers some significant benefits compared to the application of dispersants on the sea surface, for example access to the freshest and non] emulsified oil in the high turbulence environment, ability to reduce the volume of required dispersant by injecting it directly into the oil stream without the loss of the product, ability to operate day and night under a wider range of weather conditions, and availability of a large water mass to rapidly decrease the concentration of a dispersed oil intrusion. Although dispersant application at the sea surface has been extensively studied, more data are needed on the efficiency and environmental impacts of dispersed oil in the subsea to evaluate and document acceptability of this response technique.

We will test a series of deep sea organisms to the effect of specific individual hydrocarbons, as well as WAF, CEWAF and Dispersant. These responses and effects on the deep sea fauna will be calibrated by the shrimp (Americamysis bahia) which is easy to obtain and test results have been obtained in some cases. We will also use passive devices (silicon tubing) to produce equilibrated WAF and CEWAF in our experiments to also determine the use of these very new methods in oil spill research. If successful, we are hoping to develop and new method for the effects of contaminants on marine organisms. We will collect species known to be hardy (Euphausiids, Oplophorids, Copepods) using a Tucker Trawl the last 2 days of the GoMRI DEEPEND program of Dr. Tracey Sutton to maximize the use of shiptime and have added 4 ship days per year to keep these organisms fresh. Should Dr. Sutton find other deep organisms in his work we will test these as well.

The Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG) at Texas A&M University and Nova Southeastern University (NSU) have already teamed up to work on oil contaminants in shallow water corals are now teaming up to respond to the GoMRI V RFP. GERG and NSU will be responsible for the collection of deep]sea organisms using GERG technicians and NSU biologists. GERG will be responsible for the dosing and NSU the collection and husbandry of the organisms as well as measuring the effects. NSU biologists (T. Frank et al.) are experienced in the difficult task of collecting live, deep]sea species. GERG has been a leader in hydrocarbon analysis and research for 30 years. Knap as carried out many field and lab based projects involving oil hydrocarbons and marine organisms.

Project Research Overview (2016):

An overview of the proposed research activities from the GoMRI 2016 Meeting in Tampa.

Direct link to the Research Overview presentation.

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