August 8, 2019

Dr. Paris on the Science of Dispersants - Gulfcast Ep. 32

Originally recorded in 2017, and recently reshared, one of RECOVER’s co-PIs Dr. Claire Paris from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School spoke with the Dispatches from the Gulf podcast “GulfCast” on an episode discussing the research being conducted by Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative scientists on the use of dispersants during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Dr. Paris and Dr. Noshir Peskia from Tulane University, study the effects of these dispersants within the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and the impacts they had and continue to have from the Deepwater Horizon event.

Dispersants are a type of chemical that are used during the cleanup efforts of disasters such as an oil spill. Once sprayed or dispersed on a large oil slick, whether on the surface of a body of water or on land, the chemical works to break down the oil into smaller droplets that prevent the oil from doing further damage by sticking to other surfaces, such as marine wildlife.

Since this podcast was recorded, Dr. Paris has made even more progress in understanding the impacts of dispersant use during the Deepwater Horizon event and below is a portion of the comments she provided to update and elaborate on the progress of her research:

“Since then we have discovered the high – pressure processes I was eluding to. There was sudden gas expansion due to a pressure drop at the BOP (blowout preventer) which atomized the oil into very small droplets while nucleating free gas in the already gas – saturated oil droplets. The oil droplets expanded with the pressure change as they were rising to the surface. As a result, the oil was coming much faster to the surface than expected. This process is called degassing and we have recently included it in the oil model developed in my lab with the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of the Gulf Ecosystems consortium (CIMAGE).

Scientific research is ever-evolving with new findings being made and published every day and it is important that we as researchers are keeping the public up to date. To read research updates, please visit the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative website, along with their consortia’s accompanying websites.

To listen to more of the Dispatches from the Gulf podcast station GulfCast, click here.