(MacDonald et al. 2015)
On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, leased by BP, exploded in the Northern Gulf of Mexico. Eleven workers were killed trying to put out the flames. For 87 days, 4.9 million barrels of crude oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico. The oil washed up on shorelines from Texas to Florida. Countless animals died in the polluted waters, and business owners and fisherfolk who depend on the Gulf for their livelihood took a huge economic hit.
The IXTOC oil spill in 1979 was one of the world’s largest oil spills. The Mexican-owned oil company Pemex was drilling in the southern Gulf of Mexico when the rig blew out. An estimated 3.5 million barrels of oil spilled into the Gulf over nine months. The oil slick spread to the shorelines of Mexico and as far north as Texas.
Nearly 40 years later, Beneath the Horizon returns to the scene of the blowout to learn about how the environment responds over time to a spill of this magnitude. Because of the similarities to Deepwater Horizon in terms of the type of oil spilled, environment affected, and industries impacted, the IXTOC blowout can teach us about what to expect from the northern Gulf’s recovery in the years ahead.
Beneath the Horizon looks at what life is like now in the Gulf and what we can expect for recovery in the future. We dive into the Deepwater Horizon blowout and compare it to other oil spills in the region to get a long-term perspective on oil spill recovery. The videos here tell the stories of the people and environment that were impacted. After the Deepwater Horizon explosion, we ask: can the environment actually be restored? If so, how long will it take?
Born and raised along the Gulf Coast, shrimper Dean Blanchard says life for him never returned to normal following the spill. Join Dean for a journey through the region as he reveals how contamination still affects his environment and livelihood.
Is the environment recovering? Has it gotten worse? It depends on who you ask—and both observations might might actually be correct. Watch to learn about how many factors affect the health of the Gulf seven years on.
For the past century the Gulf Coast has been eroding because of industrial runoff, canal building and more recently because of sea level rise linked to anthropogenic global warming. When the Deepwater Horizon oil spill hit more was lost. Watch to see what’s being done to put resiliency back into the system.
In 1979 the the Mexican oil well, IXTOC 1, blew out into the southern Gulf. Similar in nature to the Deepwater Horizon blowout, the IXTOC disaster is being studied with renewed interest. Watch as scientists explore Mexico’s Yucatan coast in search of the long lasting effects from 1979.
Oil was not the only threat to the Gulf Coast: watch to see how human decisions in the spill's aftermath made the disaster worse and what’s still being done to correct those fateful decisions.
C-IMAGE PI Dr. Steven Murawski talks to David Levin about the research goals of our center and the importance of integration when tackling large scale impacts.
C-IMAGE PI's Steven Murawski and David Hollander on board the Weatherbird II in August of 2012 talking to David Levin about looking for impacts of the Deepwater Horizon spill on the mud and the fish in the Gulf of Mexico.
Three years after the BP oil well disaster, scientists are struggling to understand the effects on the Gulf ecosystem. From Mind Open Media, David Levin reports on the oil's impact on the tiny creatures that form the base of the food chain
David Levin talks with C-IMAGE members Cameron Ainsworth, Jason Lenes, Michelle Masi and Brian Smith about building an Ecosystem Model of the Gulf of Mexico to describe how oil spills impact marine life.
Mind Open Media's David Levin talks with C-IMAGE PI Steven Murawski and scientists from the Technical University of Hamburg at Harburg Michael Schluter and Karen Malone about their high pressure experiments ongoing at their facilities. They are looking at oil and gas droplets under high pressure to learn more about the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
C-IMAGE scientists want to know more about how oil-eating microorganisms behave in the cold deep ocean to learn more about what happened to the oil from the Deepwater Horizon blowout. High pressure experiments underway at our high pressure facility at the Hamburg University of Technology focus on how these microbes use oil and what happens to them in the process. Results from these studies may lead to a new way to clean up spills by eliminating its most poisonous ingredients.
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill happened just a few years ago, but it might be possible to predict its impact on the Gulf by studying another major spill, one that happened in 1979. “These are two of the largest spills in the world’s history as far as blowouts go and they were both in the Gulf of Mexico”. Wes Tunnell is a marine biologist who is looking at the aftermath of both spills.
Mind Open Media producer David Levin talks to David Hollander, Joel Ortega Ortiz, Isabel Romero, Adriana Gaytán-Caballero, and Travis Washburn about their experiences on the RV Justo Sierra in the southern Gulf of Mexico during the research on the Ixtoc spill.
Listen to learn how scientists reanalyzed remotely sensed data taken in the late 1970s to study the Ixtoc 1 oil spill. Dr. Chuanmin Hu and his graduate student Shaojie Sun use the Landsat and Coastal Zone Color Scanner (CZCS) data to develop "treasure maps" of oil from the IXTOC-1 spill to steer field studies. Listen in to find out how they did it.