University of Miami Research Group Part of 10 Year Program

When hundreds of millions of gallons of oil spilled into the gulf in 2010, researchers were not sure what was going to happen to it.

Some made it ashore, but what about the rest?

That's what these researchers are trying to determine.

"Their objective is to study the current movement, because during the spill I think the viewers may recall that it was uncertain where the oil was going to go,” said Chuck Wilson, Chief Scientific Officer of the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. Is it going to hit the Florida panhandle? Was it going to go to Tampa, and perhaps down into Key West and up into the east coast--that was a serious concern."

The University of Miami researchers are trying to learn from the last spill, but also prevent future spills.

They're using two methods for their experiment.

"If you have oil, how does it get onto the beach,” said Ad Reiners, Experiment Chief Scientist for SCOPE. “We are using both GPS drifters that float at the surface and dye. The dye we can inject into the water and it goes throughout the water, and moves throughout the water column."

Then the team gathers the results from above, using a helicopter.

"What we are trying to do is correlate the images from the camera to the actual measurements,” said Patrick Rynne, a Ph.D. Student at the University of Miami. “When we get in the water, if we can connect that correlation from what a camera can see from far away and what the measurements indicate, then we can fly something like this over the area and get all the dye concentration."

The team is in their third year of doing their research work.


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