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Clay Fabric and Mass Physical Properties of Surficial Marine Sediment near the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
Mississippi Academy of Sciences (2012)
  • Andrew Head
  • Richard H. Bennett
  • Jessica R. Douglas
  • Kenneth J. Curry, University of Southern Mississippi
Surficial sediment was obtained on the RV Cape Hatteras Cruise (2010) from the seafloor at a water depth of 1570 meters located at latitude 28°44'20.16"N and longitude 88°20'24.96"W in close proximity to the Deepwater Horizon well, Gulf of Mexico. Preliminary clay nano- and microfabric observation using a transmission electron microscope (TEM) depicted a sediment rich in clays and organic matter (OM) especially in the upper 2 cm subbottom. Initial analysis of TEM micrographs depicted a high porosity clay sediment. Initial study of the mass physical properties revealed water content ωt = 67.32 – 67.28% (percent total mass), porosity n= 84.1 – 83.6% (corrected for salinity of 35 ppt), and wet bulk density Yt = 1.29 Mg/m3 at subbottom depths of 0 – 2 cm. At a depth of 17 cm subbottom, ωt = 66.19 – 64.57%, n = 85.3 – 83.4% and Yt = 1.32 Mg/m3. The slightly higher wet bulk density at 17 cm burial depth reflects a considerably lower percentage of OM in contrast to the sediment water interface (0 – 2 cm) as preliminary testing demonstrated. Minor lateral and vertical variability in the mass physical properties is revealed within the sediment core at subbottom depths of 2 – 19 cm. Detailed study of total OM and organic carbon will enhance the resolution of the sediment physical properties horizontally and vertically. This study will provide preliminary understanding of the role of clay fabric and depositional processes on the sequestering of crude oil in the surficial marine sediment near the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.
Publication Date
February 24, 2012
Citation Information
Andrew Head, Richard H. Bennett, Jessica R. Douglas and Kenneth J. Curry. "Clay Fabric and Mass Physical Properties of Surficial Marine Sediment near the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill" Mississippi Academy of Sciences (2012)
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