Project Objectives

CSOMIO brings together a select team of investigators with a diverse array of expertise to synthesize their scientific, technological, and data products into a framework that will be used to gain a more complete understanding of the interaction of oil with shelf and deepwater marine ecosystems. The CSOMIO team will answer questions such as:

  • How does the rate of biodegradation of petroleum differ in shelf sediments versus deepwater sediments, and how would this change for locally released (i.e., a shelf spill) oil deposited onto shelf sediments versus aged oil deposited onto sediments on the shelf after advection from a deepwater spill?
  • How would the oil delivery pathways differ when the oil spill occurs in a region of high turbidity, such as during a major river discharge event with high sediment, nutrients and freshwater inputs, or during a period of large resuspension associated with storm events?
  • How would the biodegradation of petroleum be affected if the spill were to occur, or be advected to, a region experiencing hypoxic conditions?

The specific objectives of CSOMIO are to:

  1. Integrate recently developed modeling components, including those that simulate large-scale (Gulf of Mexico) circulation, shelf/coastal circulation, three-dimensional oil transport and fate, marine microbial interactions, biogeochemical transformations, and sediment and flocculation processes into a framework for simulating the interaction of petroleum with marine ecosystems from its source along its eventual pathways.
  2. Evaluate the system with recent physical, biogeochemical, and sediment observations and microbial processes measurements (including metagenomic and metatranscriptomic datasets).
  3. Conduct simulations using the modeling framework of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and other potential spill scenarios in the region, including similar deepwater releases under conditions that favor transport onto adjacent shallow shelves and coastal areas, oil spills occurring directly on the shelf, spills occurring during cold winter conditions, oil spills in the presence of low oxygen environments, and spills occurring during large river discharge and/or storm events.
  4. Perform analysis of the model simulations to address the above questions and gain a better understanding of the interplay between physical and biochemical processes acting on petroleum in the ocean and consequences on deepwater and shelf ecosystems.