The University of Georgia announced today that researchers led by their own Dr. Samantha Joye, Athletic Association Professor of Marine Sciences, are recipients of a new grant to continue studying natural seeps in the Gulf of Mexico.
The statement said that the scientists will continue “to tract the impacts of the BP/Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem.”
Funding comes from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, funded by BP, for a project coined “ECOGIG-2” or “Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf.” This collaborative, multi-institutional effort involves biological, chemical, geological and chemical oceanographers.
Joye and her researchers have been doggedly tracking the oil plume since the days following the blowout in April 2010. Joye’s work in the Gulf long predates the spill.
The three-year program prompted Joye to say that she was “thrilled” that the ECOGIG-2 research program was selected for funding, adding,
Our work will explore the basics of oil and gas cycling at natural seeps, discern the impacts of chemical dispersants on microbial populations and their activity and on the fate of discharged hydrocarbons, use sophisticated instrumentation and physical and biogeochemical models to track hydrocarbon transport and continue to document recovery of deep-water ecosystems from the Macondo blowout.
The popular scientist has been interviewed by this examiner, for the first time back in Jan. 2011. Soon thereafter, this examiner was asked to participate in a small media panel at “Building Bridges in Crisis”, a symposium that sought to improve communication between members of the media, government, scientists and the public, occurring just a few weeks later. At that time, other panels discussed the implications of the spill on marine life and wild life, human health, the fishing industry and tourism.
It would have been impossible to forsee then just how it would all play out, though Joye has said from the get-go that the impacts of the spill would not be revealed fully for years to come. For example, she detailed in spring of this year how the team had found far more methane in the spill area than was previously imagined.
Research funded by GoMRI focuses on “improving the fundamental understanding of the implications of events such as the Macondo well blowout, and on developing improved oil spill mitigation methods, oil and gas detection, characterization and remediation technologies”, UGA shared today.
ECOGIG-2’s mission, in part, seeks to understand how natural seeps work and how in particular, the ecosystem has been affected by the assault of the 2010 oil spill including by the impacts of Corexit and other dispersants.
This work will have impact that reaches far beyond the Gulf by elucidating how petroleum hydrocarbons are cycled in the oceans under a variety of scenarios, both natural and unnatural.
Additional participants come from the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences; University of California, Santa Barbara; Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; Florida State University; Harvard University; University of Maryland; University of North Carolina; Oregon State University; Pennsylvania State University; University of Southern Mississippi; Temple University; University of Texas at Austin and SailDrone.
For more on GoMRI, see http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/. For more on the ECOGIG-2 research project, see http://ecogig.org/. And for information on Dr. Joye’s research group at UGA, see: http://www.joyeresearchgroup.uga.edu/.