Scientists set to study leftover impacts from 2010 Gulf Oil Spil - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Scientists head to Gulf to study lingering effects from 2010 oil spill


NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -- A team of scientists is setting out on a mission to study the leftover impacts caused by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

Saturday, the group unveiled a special vehicle that they will use during the mission. The machine, known as 'Alvin,' is a highly-advanced, submersible vehicle that can safely plunge humans thousands of meters deep into the ocean.

"It's basically brand new. Top to bottom built. It can go deeper. It has an all new control architecture and basically this is the first true science cruise that we're doing since we brought it out," said 'Alvin' Expedition Leader Bruce Stickrott. "The sub can go down about 4500 meters but there's nowhere in the gulf that is that deep. So, our deepest dives will be about 2,000 to 2,200 meters."

Stickrott pilots the sub that will also transport two scientist passengers during a series of dives near the Macondo wellhead site, where roughly five million gallons of oil poured into the Gulf of Mexico four years ago.

"We go down to the sites and we take lots of photography and we characterize what we see and take lots of samples of the fluids that they'll bring up and they'll do analysis on," he said. "We're looking for methane gas and all sorts of things like that. A lot of imagery will help. Some chemical sampling will happen so they can characterize what sort of chemicals are in the area."

A team of researchers from several universities is taking part in the nearly month-long mission aboard the Research Vessel Atlantis. They're calling it the biggest gulf study since the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Chuck Wilson, Chief Science Officer with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, said researchers will literally be digging deep to identify any lingering effects.

"What is in the sediment? What is on top of the sediment? How do the animals and other organisms that live in the area -- how are they behaving? Look at the chemical composition of the sediment and the water around it," said Wilson. "It's extremely important because we've got to continue to monitor how things are changing over time."

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