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Special Report: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

Friday, April 22, 2011 - University Communications & Marketing
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It’s the largest environmental disaster in American history and its impact on the Gulf of Mexico and the surrounding coastlines could last for decades. On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig – leased by BP – exploded in a fireball 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, killing 11 workers and unleashing a gusher of crude nearly a mile below the surface.


Millions of gallons of oil have spewed into the Gulf. From the outset, scientists and researchers from the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science mobilized to examine the spill, its potential flow patterns in the Gulf and its impact on the environment.


Research vessels outfitted with advanced equipment are making frequent trips to gather valuable data. Scientists are briefing members of Congress. USF experts are sought out by numerous media. The College of Marine Science remains an agile and dynamic resource for all information on the Gulf of Mexico and the spill.


One Year Later:


USF Scientists Continue to Probe Oil Spill Impact: The Deepwater Horizon was 300 miles off the coast of West Central Florida, drilling in an area of the Gulf of Mexico so deep much of it had been unexplored at the time of the explosion. A year after the spill, scientists seek answers to lingering questions on environmental impact and better monitoring systems.


Unified Attack on Oil Spill Aftermath: Florida and Gulf neighbors join forces in marine science research collaborative to better study the Gulf of Mexico.


Science in the Spotlight: USF's College of Marine Science was in the international spotlight during much of the spill and its scientists continue to be sought as leading voices on scientific challenges ahead.


Interactive Timeline: Review the year in photos.


Database of Oil Spill Information: USF Library has compiled a rich database of information on the Gulf oil spill, from health and economic impacts to media coverage and research reports.


USF Resources:


USF Experts: Contact scientists and researchers who can address the Gulf oil spill.


College of Marine Science: Check out the school’s mission and strategic plan.


Oil Spill Information: Oil spill tracking, modeling, satellite imagery, data products and news links.


USF Libraries:  A database of aggregated content on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, resources for teachers and students and a look at past oil spills.


Florida Institute of Oceanography: Created by the State University System to support and enhance Florida’s coastal marine science, oceanography and related management programs.


Story Archive:


NWF Convenes Researchers to Discuss Gulf Oil Disaster: (Dec. 3, 2010) Review a video report from the November symposium to discuss the impacts of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill held in Sarasota and sponsored by Mote Marine Laboratory, the National Wildlife Federation and the University of South Florida.


National Geographic Special Features USF: (Sept. 27, 2010) "Can the Gulf Survive" airs Tuesday night and highlights College of Marine Science research on Gulf oil spill.


R/V Weatherbird II To Return Friday: (Sept. 2, 2010) USF scientists with the College of Marine Science are on a seven-day research venture examining the impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.


Tracking Beach Ecosystems In Wake of Spill: (Aug. 31, 2010) USF professor Susan Bell is studying whether the behavior of beach organisms and critters has been altered on beaches impacted by the oil spill.


USF Scientists Detect Oil on Gulf Floor: (Aug. 17, 2010) Marine scientists have discovered what appears to be oil in sediments in an underwater canyon vital to marine life. Oil has become toxic to critical marine organisms.


FIO Council Approves $9M in Spill Research Grants: (Aug. 12, 2010) The Florida Institute of Oceanography Council selected 27 research projects examining the impact of the Deepwater Horizon spill for funding from $10 million provided by oil company BP.


USF Scientists, Weatherbird II Returning to Spill Zone: (Aug. 6, 2010) Fourteen scientists will spend the next 10 days aboard the R\V Weatherbird II conducting experiments in the Gulf of Mexico.


R/V Bellows On Gulf Trip: (July 7, 2010) The R/V Bellows will set sail Friday for a nine-day research venture along Florida's west coast to collect baseline data on marine life, water quality and sediment.


Oil Threatens Dunes: (July 2, 2010) Oil laden waves have pushed the contamination on shore, threatening nesting areas.


Subsurface Oil Exists: (June 8, 2010) USF Scientists say layers of degraded oil found suspended at depths of 400 meters to 1,400 meters. Their findings were detailed during a June 8, 2010 news conference, attended by media and officials with NOAA. Click the video below to watch part of the news conference.



USF Geologist Says Beach Cleanup Not Clean Sweep: (July 2, 2010) Tar balls and other contamination remain on Florida beaches even after work crews try to clean the white sand.


FIO Receives $10 Million From BP: (June 24, 2010) The Florida Institute of Oceanography is now accepting research proposals from the state’s marine scientists to assess, monitor and plan for the protection and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico.


Researcher To Study Oil Impact on Shrimp, Small Fish: (June 23, 2010) USF Marine Biologist Jose Torres received funding from the National Science Foundation to study the effects of oil and chemical dispersants on small fish and crustaceans that live in the middle depths of the Gulf of Mexico.


Oil Spill Findings: (June 8, 2010) Find a summary of findings from the analysis of water samples taken from the Gulf of Mexico.


Tracking The Spill: Click the link to find the latest models tracking the spread of the oil spill in the Gulf.


Demonstration: Finding Oil in Clear Water: (June 15, 2010) In this video, Ernst Peebles, a biological oceanographer with the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science, conducts a test that shows the presence of oil in water that looks essentially clear and clean.


 FIO To Receive $10 Million Grant from BP: (June 16, 2010) The Florida Institute of Oceanography will receive $10 million from oil company BP to fund a rapid research response to the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico.


USF Expert Weisberg Testifies In Washington: (June 15, 2010) Robert  Weisberg, a USF Distinguished Professor of physical oceanography, testified Tuesday before the U.S. House of Representatives on gaps in the nation’s scientific capabilities to respond to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill crisis.


Florida Panhandle In Oil Spill Crosshairs: (June 7, 2010) The latest projections from the University of South Florida's Ocean Circulation Group now appear that surface oil from the Deepwater Horizon Spill that reached northwest Florida shorlines last week may now be driven back offshore by forecast winds, said USF researcher and center director Robert Weisberg.


USF Marine Scientist with NOAA: (June 2, 2010) Researcher Drew Remsen uses the SIPPER to search the Gulf's underbelly.


Invisible Oil Detected in the Gulf: (May 28, 2010) Researchers aboard the USF R/V Weatherbird II have discovered what initial tests show to be a wide area with elevated levels of dissolved hydrocarbons throughout the water column, possibly indicating that a limb of an undersea oil plume has spread northeast toward the continental shelf.


Media Greet R/V Weatherbird II: (May 28, 2010) USF biological oceanographer Ernst Peebles told a group of media gathered at the dock that the crew discovered a wide area with high levels of dissolved hydrocarbons.


Returning to the Gulf: (May 24, 2010) USF’s R/V Weatherbird II to explore the gulf for contamination.


R/V Bellows Returns from the Loop Current: (May 24, 2010) Voyage involved collecting water samples from the Loop Current.


Loop Current Threat Prompts Second Venture: (May 18, 2010) College of Marine Science models show oil entering the gulf’s Loop Current, prompting second voyage.


Critical Mission: (May 13, 2010) Armed with some of the world’s most advanced underwater imaging technology, USF researchers from the College of Marine Science embark on a 12-day venture to determine the extent of damage the toxic oil has had on microscopic life, the basis for the gulf food web.


To Drill or Not to Drill?: (May 13, 2010) Three USF professors discuss how spill should impact the future of drilling in the gulf and what to do about alternative forms of energy.


R/V Weatherbird II Crew in Spotlight: (May 13, 2010) Crew members play an integral role in gathering the water and marine life samples which will guide spill damage assessment and mitigation efforts for years to come.


USF College of Marine Science Dean Bill Hogarth on USF's Gulf Oil Spill Efforts: (May 7, 2010) Statement from USF College of Marine Science Dean Bill Hogarth.


Senator Meets With USF Marine Circulation Expert: (May 7, 2010) USF scientist briefs senator on the projected trajectory of the gulf oil spill.


USF Scientists Track Oil Spill: (May 27, 2010) Using images beamed from a NASA satellite far above the earth to the USF College of Marine Science, USF researchers now predict oil spilling from the ruptured Deep Horizon well has reached the Gulf of Mexico’s Loop Current, but predicting where it's going continues to be a challenge.


USF Technology Used in Spill Crisis: (May 4, 2010) Mission enlists cutting-edge USF technology.



Since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, researchers and scientists with the University of South Florida's College of Marine Science have been tracking the movement of the massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico and assessing its impact on the environment. In this video, William T. Hogarth, the college's dean, provides an overview of the role of the college, some of the work that has been done and the connection to the Florida Institute of Oceanography. It's a team effort, the dean stresses, and a job that will continue for years as the region fights to recover from the spill.




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