On April 20, 2010, an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil rig released a torrent of oil in the seafloor of the Gulf of Mexico, discharging close to 5 million barrels of oil in 87 days. It was the largest accidental oil spill in U.S. history. Six years later, researchers such as the School of Biology’s Joel Kostka continue to study the disaster’s environmental impacts.
Much work has gone into accounting for the spilled oil. We know that 25 percent was recovered by federal response efforts, 5 percent evaporated and 70 percent was left to degrade in environment. Meanwhile, legal proceedings have prevented the release of some key research results and studies continue. But thus far, microbes appear to have degraded the oil quickly in many areas of the Gulf.