Oil Contamination In Mississippi Salt Marsh Habitats and the Impacts to Spartina alterniflora Photosynthesis

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Ocean Science and Engineering


The Deepwater Horizon (DWH) explosion and subsequent oil spill in the northern Gulf of Mexico (GOM), from April 20 to July 15, 2010, is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the U.S. petrochemical industry (Read 2011). This accident released about 4.9 million barrels (7.0 × 106 m3) of crude oil into the open ocean from the leaking Macondo (MC252) well at 1.5 km depth (Crone and Tolstoy 2010) and at approximately 170 km from the Mississippi mainland coast. Salt marshes are important coastal ecosystems because they are highly productive. They also provide valuable ecosystem services, such as the provision of food and shelter for many organisms (Turner 1977; Boesch and Turner 1984; Phillips 1987; Cai et al. 2000; Beck et al. 2001), carbon sequestration (Chmura et al. 2003), shoreline stabilization and storm protection (King and Lester 1995; Moeller et al. 1996), filtration of excess nutrients (Valiela et al. 2000; Tobias et al. 2001a,b; Valiela and Cole 2002), and valued recreational and aesthetic opportunities (Lee et al. 1992; Engle 2011; Jordan and Peterson 2012). Coastal wetlands are not only threatened by stressors from the terrestrial side (sensu Peterson and Lowe 2009), but are also at risk from ocean-side stressors that include pollutants such as oil.

Publication Title

Impacts of Oil Spill Disasters On Marine Habitats and Fisheries In North America