Document Type


Publication Date



Marine Science


Ocean Science and Engineering


The focus of this study was to determine the long-term fate of oil-residues from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DwH) oil spill due to remobilization, transport, and re-distribution of oil residue contaminated sediments to down-slope depocenters following initial deposition on the seafloor. We characterized hydrocarbon residues, bulk sediment organic matter, ease of resuspension, sedimentology, and accumulation rates to define distribution patterns in a 14,300 km2 area southeast of the DwH wellhead (1,500 to 2,600 m water depth). Oil-residues from the DwH were detected at low concentrations in 62% of the studied sites at specific sediment layers, denoting episodic deposition of oil-residues during 2010–2014 and 2015–2018 periods. DwH oil residues exhibited a spatial distribution pattern that did not correspond with the distribution of the surface oil slick, subsurface plume or original seafloor spatial expression. Three different regions were apparent in the overall study area and distinguished by the episodic nature of sediment accumulation, the ease of sediment resuspension, the timing of oil-residue deposition, carbon content and isotopic composition and foram fracturing extent. These data indicate that resuspension and down-slope redistribution of oil-residues occurred in the years following the DwH event and must be considered in determining the fate of the spilled oil deposited on the seafloor.

Publication Title

Frontiers in Marine Science



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