Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4103-9385

Year of Publication

2019

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Earth and Environmental Sciences (Geology)

First Advisor

Dr. Kevin M. Yeager

Abstract

The Gulf of Mexico (GoMx) is among the most productive regions for offshore oil and natural gas recovery. In 2010, the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) drilling rig exploded, burned for three days, sank, and released over 4 million barrels of oil in the subsequent 84 days before it was capped. Some oil was buoyant enough to float to the ocean surface, where some was removed via a myriad techniques. Importantly, a plume of oil remained suspended in the water column at approximately 1,100 m water depth, where it drove a marine snow event, and deposited large quantities of oil on the seafloor.

The northern GoMx seafloor is complex and dynamic. Submarine canyons, mounds, channels, and salt domes dominate the seafloor along the continental slope surrounding the DWH well. Using high-resolution bathymetric data, variables derived to characterize the seafloor (water depth, distance, slope, and aspect), and spatial relationships between seafloor stations and the DWH well, relationships between concentrations, fluxes and inventories of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and other seafloor variables were hypothesized to be statistically significantly related. The most significant seafloor characteristic to predict distributions was water depth, followed by distance, relative aspect, and slope.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

https://doi.org/10.13023/etd.2020.034

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