A predictive strategy for mapping locations where future MOSSFA events are expected

Murk, A.J.; Hollander, D.J.; Chen, S.; Hu, C.; Liu, Y.; Vonk, S.M.; Schwing, Patrick T.; Gilbert, S.; Foekema, E.M.


A MOSSFA (marine oil snow sedimentation and flocculent accumulation) event was the reason that substantial amounts of the spilled oil were transported to the seafloor during the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil well blowout. The region-wide sinking and flocculent accumulation of marine oil snow on the sediment surface changed redox conditions, slowed down the biodegradation of the oil, and increased the spatial and temporal impacts on the benthic community and habitat suitability. Recent field research has confirmed that, in addition to the DWH MOSSFA event in the northern Gulf of Mexico (nGoM), another extensive MOSSFA event occurred in a biologically sensitive area in the southern Gulf of Mexico (sGoM) during the 1979 - 1980 Ixtoc I oil well blowout. Thus, MOSSFA events are not unexpected and have the potential to not only alter sediment chemical conditions but also to extend, expand, and intensify the ecological impact of an oil spill. Consequently this risk should be taken into consideration when preparing response...