Impact of Deepwater Horizon Spill on food supply to deep-sea benthos communities

Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
By: , and 

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Abstract

Deep-sea ecosystems encompass unique and often fragile communities that are sensitive to a variety of anthropogenic and natural impacts. After the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill, sampling efforts documented the acute impact of the spill on some deep-sea coral colonies. To investigate the impact of the DWH spill on quality and quantity of biomass delivered to the deep-sea, a suite of geochemical tracers (e.g., stable and radio-isotopes, lipid biomarkers, and compound specific isotopes) was measured from monthly sediment trap samples deployed near a high-density deep-coral site in the Viosca Knoll area of the north-central Gulf of Mexico prior to (Oct-2008 to Sept-2009) and after the spill (Oct-10 to Sept-11). Marine (e.g., autochthonous) sources of organic matter dominated the sediment traps in both years, however after the spill, there was a pronounced reduction in marinesourced OM, including a reduction in marine-sourced sterols and n-alkanes and a concomitant decrease in sediment trap organic carbon and pigment flux. Results from this study indicate a reduction in primary production and carbon export to the deep-sea in 2010-2011, at least 6-18 months after the spill started. Whereas satellite observations indicate an initial increase in phytoplankton biomass, results from this sediment trap study define a reduction in primary production and carbon export to the deep-sea community. In addition, a dilution from a low-14C carbon source (e.g., petrocarbon) was detected in the sediment trap samples after the spill, in conjunction with a change in the petrogenic composition. The data presented here fills a critical gap in our knowledge of biogeochemical processes and sub-acute impacts to the deep-sea that ensued after the 2010 DWH spill.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Impact of Deepwater Horizon Spill on food supply to deep-sea benthos communities
Series title Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science
DOI 10.1016/j.ecss.2015.11.008
Volume 169
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Pacific Coastal and Marine Science Center
Description 17 p.
First page 248
Last page 264
Country United States
Other Geospatial Gulf of Mexico
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N