The aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill
The oil discharged into the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) rig in 2010 contaminated more than 1,000 square miles of seafloor. The complexity of the event has made it difficult for scientists to determine the long-term fate of oil in this ocean environment. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)

Researchers from UC Santa Barbara and a team from 3 other institutions have analyzed data from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment that identifies the specific rates of biodegradation for 125 major petroleum hydrocarbons or compounds from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that settled on the ocean floor. In their study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers noted the factors that would influence the environmental impact of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

“Now, we can finally take all of this environmental data and begin to predict how long 125 major components of the DWH oil on the deep ocean floor will be there,” shared David Valentine, a professor in UCSB’s Department of Earth Science and one of the authors of the study. “The way in which we’ve analyzed all of these different compounds helps answer questions everybody asked right after…