Deepwater Horizon accident hastened the destruction of salt marshes of Florida

Leaking oil into the waters of the Gulf of Mexico during the accident on the Deepwater Horizon led to the mass death of the plants that hold the soil in the salt marshes on the coast of Florida and Louisiana, which accelerated soil erosion and capture the land area of the sea, environmentalists say in an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The accident occurred on the Deepwater Horizon April 22, 2010. The explosion and subsequent fire damaged a pipeline through which oil flows from the sea floor to board platformy.Obrazovalas leak, the elimination of which BP said August 4, 2010. During this time the waters of the Gulf spilled nearly five million barrels of crude oil.

Group of environmentalists led by Brian Silliman (Brian Silliman) from the University of Florida in Gainesville (USA) studied the effects of the accident on the coast of Florida and Louisiana, where there are a lot of salt marshes — the vast lowlands periodically flooded with water Gulf of Mexico.

As the researchers note, in these parts of the coast of North America to form a special ecosystem of several unique species of wetland plants that hold the soil in place and giving the water of the sea carry dust particles. According to the researchers, in the past two decades blur soil marshes increased dramatically due to human activities and climate change.

Silliman and his colleagues made several expeditions to the area of Louisiana salt marshes immediately after the accident, to eliminate its consequences, and 1.5 years after it began in April 2011. During the expedition, scientists collected soil samples assessed the number and condition of wetland flora and fauna, and also studied the chemical composition of the water.

According to researchers, oil and products of its decay penetrated by 5-10 meters deep into Louisiana marshes. According to the researchers, the concentration of aromatic hydrocarbons and other toxic substances exceeded the typical values of these wetlands is 100 times or more.

Because of this almost killed all snails and other invertebrates, as well as herbaceous plant stems disappeared. At the same time, along with the green part of the dead and the roots of plants — estimated environmentalists were destroyed and 95% of rhizomes. For comparison, in healthy marshes alive is about 65-70% of the underground parts of plants.

"Louisiana is losing an hour of each volume of the soil, which would suffice for laying a football field, and this was before the accident. When grasses die from oil pollution, the roots that hold soil deposits marshes, also died. Destroying grass in the marshy areas of the coast oil spill accelerated the decay of soil about two times, "- said Salliman.

The authors claim that the spill Sea "took away" from Louisiana marshes three meters of land per year to complete the process in April 2011. During this time the grass of the pristine marshes inland areas had to settle part of the territory, the flora of which was destroyed during the flood.

"Louisiana Swamp and so lost a lot of ground by the construction of canals in the mouth of the Mississippi. An oil spill has only strengthened this effect. This event — a great example of how two anthropogenic factors add up and increase the overall negative impact on the environment," — concludes Salliman.

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