Marine Science Faculty Publications

Characterizing the Variability of Benthic Foraminifera in the Northeastern Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon Event (2010-2012)

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Biodiversity, Environment, Environmental Monitoring, Foraminifera, Geologic Sediments, Gulf of Mexico, Hydrocarbons, Mexico, Petroleum Pollution, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons, Water Pollutants, Chemical

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Following the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) event in 2010 subsurface hydrocarbon intrusions (1000-1300 m) and an order of magnitude increase in flocculent hydrocarbon deposition caused increased concentrations of hydrocarbons in continental slope sediments. This study sought to characterize the variability [density, Fisher's alpha (S), equitability (E), Shannon (H)] of benthic foraminifera following the DWH event. A series of sediment cores were collected at two sites in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico from 2010 to 2012. At each site, three cores were utilized for benthic faunal analysis, organic geochemistry, and redox metal chemistry, respectively. The surface intervals (∼0-10 mm) of the sedimentary records collected in December 2010 at DSH08 and February 2011 at PCB06 were characterized by significant decreases in foraminiferal density, S, E, and H, relative to the down-core intervals as well as previous surveys. Non-metric multidimensional scaling (nMDS) analysis suggested that a 3-fold increase in polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) concentration in the surface interval, relative to the down-core interval, was the environmental driver of benthic foraminiferal variability. These records suggested that the benthic foraminiferal recovery time, following an event such as the DWH, was on the order of 1-2 years.


Data used in this article are available for download.

Benthic Foraminifera Abundance, Stable Isotopes, Desoto Canyon Sediments, 2010-2012

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Environmental Science and Pollution Research, v. 24, issue 3, p. 2754-2769