2013 Expedition

ECOGIG: Dr. Erik Cordes

Ecosystem Impacts of Oil and Gas Inputs to the Gulf (ECOGIG)

Jun 21, 2013 to Jul 4, 2013 — NA028

The ECOGIG expedition is part of a larger research program focused on examining the ecosystem-level response to oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico. This research group, the ECOGIG Consortium, is made up of scientists from a wide variety of disciplines studying current flow, ocean chemistry, microbial activity, deep-sea coral communities, and everything in between. The group is looking primarily at natural oil and gas seepage into the Gulf, but using these natural processes to learn more about what happened after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. The focus of this cruise is on the deep-sea corals and their response to the oil spill, but this work will include information from all of the other groups of scientists to fully understand what is happening.

The Corps of Exploration returned to a number of sites where ECOGIG has documented impacts of the oil spill to deep-sea corals and continue monitoring of these sites. The team will take a large number of pictures of the same corals followed since the impacts were first discovered. When compared to the previous pictures, images will show how the corals are changing over time and whether they are recovering or getting worse. The expedition will examine large Lophelia coral reefs where impacts have not been seen and then move deeper to the Paramuricea sea-fan sites that include both impacted and undisturbed sites.

During the cruise, the team will collect corals from some sites and conduct experiments on samples to see responses oil and dispersant exposure. Researchers monitor their health over time and take a series of samples to examine coral’s genetic response. Usually, when an organism is exposed to a toxin, it begins to make proteins that will help them deal with the effects. This research will explore whether the genes that make response proteins get turned on or off in response to oil exposure. Studies like this help researchers learn whether some corals are more resistant to oil exposure providing a tool to use in the future to determine if a coral has been exposed to a toxin in its environment, even after the toxin is long gone.

Another key goal of the ECOGIG cruise is to collect sediment samples to look at the biological communities in the mud near healthy coral communities and near natural oil seeps. Push cores taken by the ROV and brought to the surface will be processed to pick out and identify all animals. Bacteria and other microbes living in the sediments will also be examined.

This expedition is unique as scientists will not only be on E/V Nautilus but also on RV Endeavor. Endeavor, a ship managed by the University of Rhode Island, will collect water samples above study sites and take core samples of mud around the edges of the sites. Samples will characterize the habitats and the natural oil and gas inputs into the ecosystem. Dual ship operations take a lot of coordination but working together, scientists will get a much more complete picture of the system than one ship would have alone. 

Meet the Team

Photo of Sulaiman Al'Sibani
Navigator
Photo of Gillian Ashenfelter
Educator-at-Sea
Photo of Samantha Berlet
Science Intern
Photo of Mike Brennan
Science/Data Team
Photo of Zena Cardman
Science/Data
Photo of Megan Cook
Communications
Photo of Erik Cordes
Science/Data
Photo of Richard Dannenberg
Science/Data
Photo of Amanda Demopoulos
Science/Data
Photo of Mark DeRoche
Deck Chief
Photo of Stephen Estrin
Argus Pilot
Photo of Mike Filimon
Hercules Pilot
Photo of Sarah Fuller
Science/Data, Data Manager
Photo of Samuel Georgian
Science/Data team
Photo of Ethan Gold
Data Engineer
Photo of Todd Gregory
Hercules Pilot
Photo of Alex Kavanaugh
ROV Pilot
Photo of Caleb King
Science/Data
Photo of Roderick MacLeod
Navigator
Photo of Alex Martin
Video Intern
Photo of Danielle McKean
Science/Data
Photo of Reuben Mills
Hercules Pilot
Photo of Mary Nichols
Video Engineer
Photo of Brennan Phillips
Science/Data Team
Photo of Dannise Ruiz
Science/Data
Photo of Allan Santos
Video Engineer
Photo of Clara Smart
Navigator
Photo of Liz Smith
Communications/Medical
Photo of William Snyder
Science/Data
Photo of Noelle Turner
Educator-at-Sea
Photo of Danielle Young
Science/Data

Highlights

Video: ECOGIG Pre Cruise Interview with Dr. Erik Cordes
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ECOGIG Pre Cruise Interview with Dr. Erik Cordes
June 23, 2013
Album: Coral Site 1 Dive Highlights June 22, 2013
 
Coral Site 1 Dive Highlights June 22, 2013
16 photos
June 24, 2013
Album: Coral Sites 1 and 2 Dive June 23, 2013
 
Coral Sites 1 and 2 Dive June 23, 2013
13 photos
June 24, 2013
Album: ECOGIG 2013
 
ECOGIG 2013
12 photos
June 25, 2013
Album: Coral Community Dive Site June 25. 2010
 
Coral Community Dive Site June 25. 2010
13 photos
June 26, 2013
Album: Benthic Lander Dive June 19, 2013
 
Benthic Lander Dive June 19, 2013
7 photos
June 26, 2013
Album: Coral Imaging Dive Highlights June 26, 2013
 
Coral Imaging Dive Highlights June 26, 2013
12 photos
June 27, 2013
Album: Coral Imaging Dive Highlights June 27, 2013
 
Coral Imaging Dive Highlights June 27, 2013
16 photos
June 28, 2013
Album: Launching Herc and Argus
 
Launching Herc and Argus
10 photos
June 28, 2013
Album: Deepwater Coral Invertebrates
 
Deepwater Coral Invertebrates
10 photos
June 29, 2013
Album: Coral Highlight Dive June 29, 2013
 
Coral Highlight Dive June 29, 2013
14 photos
June 30, 2013
Album: Coral Dive Highlights June 30, 2013
 
Coral Dive Highlights June 30, 2013
12 photos
July 1, 2013
Video: Spider Crab
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Spider Crab
July 1, 2013
Video: Purple Cephalopod
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Purple Cephalopod
July 1, 2013
Video: Climbing the Florida Escarpment
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Climbing the Florida Escarpment
July 2, 2013
Video: Holothurian Expels Waste
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Holothurian Expels Waste
July 2, 2013
Album: Coral Dive Highlights July 1, 2013
 
Coral Dive Highlights July 1, 2013
14 photos
July 4, 2013
Album: Coral Dive Highlights July 2, 2013
 
Coral Dive Highlights July 2, 2013
12 photos
July 4, 2013
Album: Coral Dive Highlights July 3, 2013
 
Coral Dive Highlights July 3, 2013
15 photos
July 4, 2013
Album: Coral Dive Highlights at Roberts Reef July 4, 2013
 
Coral Dive Highlights at Roberts Reef July 4, 2013
24 photos
July 4, 2013
Video: ECOGIG Wrap up - Part 2
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ECOGIG Wrap up - Part 2
August 17, 2013
Video: ECOGIG Wrap up - Part 1
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ECOGIG Wrap up - Part 1
August 17, 2013