Click for enlargement with legend
Photo by Ken Sleeper (MMRI/STRC) taken 4/22/10

Oil Spill Rapid Response Cruise Underway at Seafloor Observatory Site (updated 5/7/10)

The Seafloor Observatory, slated for installation at Mississippi Canyon Block 118, may be an Ideal platform for evaluating the effects of the recent tragedy in the Gulf.  A research cruise aboard the R/V Pelican reached the site this morning (May 5, 2010) to collect samples of marine sediments.  A box corer will be used to retrieve undisturbed samples along two transects each approximately eight miles long and roughly along the transect between Mississippi Canyon block 252 (the Deep Horizon well site) and Mississippi Canyon block 118 (the seafloor observatory site). For daily updates see Vernon Asper’s (USM marine scientist) site reports from the R/V Pelican.  The cruise is funded through NIUST at the University of Mississippi.  Matt Lowe and Andy Gossett of MMRI are also onboard to facilitate sediment sampling.

Oil forecast on 5/26/2010 - coverage from Baton Rouge, Louisiana to Wright, Florida

Oil forecast on 5/13/2010 - coverage from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi to Mobile Bay, Alabama

Oil forecast on 5/11/2010 - coverage from New Orleans, Louisiana to Pensacola, Florida

Oil forecast on 5/7/2010 - coverage from New Orleans, Louisiana to Wright, Florida

Oil forecast on 5/4/2010 - coverage from from Bay St. Louis, Mississippi to Mobile Bay, Alabama

Oil forecast on 5/4/2010 - coverage from New Iberia, Louisiana to Panama City, Florida


In April, 2010, MMRI/CMRET installed the Integrated Data Power Unit and pop-up buoy for data retrieval from the Seafloor Observatory at MC118. While we were onsight, the oil slick from the Deepwater Horizon rig disaster, began to be visible on the surface at MC118. Photos from the cruise document this event as well as the effects of dispersant that began to be sprayed at the accident sight. Some of the photos show oil beginning to coagulate. See a gallery of photos from the April 2010 Cruise.


The seafloor at Mississippi Canyon 118 was the site of a simple experiment that demonstrates the formation and dissociation of gas hydrates, gas molecules frozen in an ice matrix. The conditions that favor hydrate formation - high pressures, low temperatures and the availability of gases and water - are all here. The robotic arm maneuvers the clear tube over a bubble stream emanating from a crater in the carbonate-hydrate mound. In a very short time, gas trapped in the tube begins to be incorporated into an ice matrix.  When the tube is inverted, the hydrate, less dense than seawater, floats out of the tube, dissociating into its components, gas and water.

This experiment was designed by Roger Sassen and executed during a Gulf of Mexico Hydrates Research Consortiun cruise aboard the Seward Johnson in September, 2006. The Johnson SeaLink, manned submersible, was the platform for this experiment. Download the movie (13.8 mb wmv file).

Contact: Carol B. Lutken

go to MMRI main page