USF used the research vessel Weatherbird II, a floating laboratory, to collect and analyze a huge number of samples.
COLLECTING THE SAMPLES
A CTD rossette and gliders were used to collect samples from areas northeast of the spill. Here is how they operated:
Researchers used this device, which looks like a rosette wheel of cylindrical containers, to capture the subsurface oil and measure ocean conditions, such as water temperature, salinity and density. The containers can be electronically opened and closed at any depth.
The team also deployed automated gliders to take measurements. The gliders move up and down underwater by changing their buoyancy. The glider surfaces to transmit collected data to the Weatherbird II or to laboratories on shore.
PROBING THE PLUMES
The subsurface oil is like a series of clouds, rather than blobs of dark oil. Like clouds, the oil can be continuous or broken up, taking on a variety of shapes and sizes. Some can be long and wispy, others thick and bulbous. The CTD and the gliders probe and collect samples which are analyzed to create a chemical fingerprint that can be compared to oil samples from the spill.