Long-term study of Mexican oil spill may reveal future Deepwater Horizon impacts

Harte Research Institute

The Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi will receive $1.25 million over the next three years to work with Mexican colleagues in the southern Gulf of Mexico to look for residual impacts from the Ixtoc I oil spill of 1979-1980 on coastal areas, fisheries, and the deep sea. This long-term study will reveal what impacts may be in store 30 years after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill.

Dr. Wes Tunnell, associate director of HRI, is leading the project. “We are very pleased with the funding of this project,” he said. “It gives us the opportunity to work with our Mexican counterparts once again and to reexamine the Gulf’s other major oil spill, Ixtoc.”

Tunnell is joined in this research effort by HRI-endowed chairs: Drs. Jim Gibeaut, John Gold, Paul Montagna, Greg Stunz, and David Yoskowitz.

On Nov. 14, the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) awarded $140 million to 12 research consortia to conduct scientific studies of the impacts of oil, dispersed oil, and dispersant on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and public health. These research investments focus on improving fundamental understanding of the implications of events such as the Deepwater Horizon spill, and on developing improved spill mitigation, oil and gas detection, characterization and remediation technologies. The consortia were chosen following a competitive merit review process that evaluated research applications submitted in response to proposals.

HRI will work with the Center for Integrated Modeling and Analysis of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE) consortium, led by the University of South Florida. C-IMAGE was one of the original consortia that GoMRI established in 2012. C-IMAGE received $20.2 million in this latest round of funding to support research over the next three years by 19 collaborating institutions, in five countries including Mexico, the Netherlands, Germany, and Canada. 

“It is another indication of how effective the Harte Model of integrated multidisciplinary research can be in helping us understand the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem,” said Dr. Larry McKinney, HRI executive director. “We have a great team of Gulf experts at HRI and the partnership with C-IMAGE is an exciting opportunity to join an established consortium with a history of innovation and discovery.”

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