Fate of Deepwater Horizon oil in Alabama's beach system: understanding physical evolution processes based on observational data

Joel S Hayworth, T Prabakhar Clement, Gerald F John, Fang Yin
Marine Pollution Bulletin 2015 January 15, 90 (1-2): 95-105
The impact of MC252 oil on northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM) beaches from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) catastrophe was extensive along Alabama's beaches. While considerable amount of cleanup has occurred along these beaches, as of August 2014, DWH oil spill residues continue to be found as surface residual balls (SRBs), and also occasionally as submerged oil mats (SOMs). Four years of field observations informing the fate and transport of DWH SRBs in Alabama's beach system are presented here, along with a conceptual framework for describing their physical evolution processes. The observation data show that SRBs containing MC252 residues currently remain in Alabama's beach system, although their relationship to SOMs is not fully known. Based on our field observations we conclude that small DWH SRBs are likely to persist for several years along the Alabama shoreline.

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