A group of institutions led by the Marine Science Institute (MSI) at The University of Texas will spend three years looking at how oil spills disperse in the Gulf of Mexico

It will also look at the effect on the ecology of the region following the accident on a BP controlled oil rig, which killed 11 people and led to the worst oil spill in US history.

The grant, which is the largest in the MSI’s 70-year history, is part of the $500M Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GRI) set up by BP in the wake of last year’s Deepwater Horizon incident.

Lead investigator on the grant, Dr Ed Buskey, said: “People have been surprised at how quickly the oil has dispersed after this spill.

“The only really good comparisons we have are the Ixtoc spill in the late 1970s in the gulf and the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska.

“In both of those cases the oil stuck around for a much longer time than it seems to have done in this case.

“One of our goals is to understand why it’s been so different this time around, and to see if there are lessons that can be drawn that might be useful in predicting how the oil will disperse in future events.”

In all eight grants totalling $112.5M over three years, were awarded in this round of funding.

Luke Walsh

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