Six to 10 million gallons of oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill have settled into the sediment on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico, according to a new study in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.
“Everyone thinks oil is very buoyant and that it just floats on the surface,” lead author Jeff Chanton, an oceanography professor at Florida State University, told Climate Progress.
But “the researchers found the oil was buried in the top layers of the Gulf’s sediment, meaning that if the sediment is stirred up in the future, the oil could once again enter the water,” Valentine writes.
“Chanton said the oil’s position on the sediment’s surface also means it’s a part of the food chain: the worms and other benthic organisms that live on the seafloor and feed on sediments will ingest the oil, and the contaminants associated with the oil will be passed on to the creatures that eat the worms. That could be a long-term problem for the health of these deepwater Gulf fish.”