The overall goal of this project is to conduct laboratory studies to examine the transport behavior of sediments contaminated with Deepwater Horizon oil. Laboratory-scale experiments are warranted because of the variability in natural systems and the difficulty in controlling system variables. Of particular interest are the re-suspension and re-distribution behavior of oil-contaminated sediments as a function of shear velocity, and changes in oil concentration and constituent chemistry in sediments undergoing re-suspension and redistribution.
An experimental flume is being constructed to produce steady shear velocity profiles across oil-contaminated sediments while allowing chemical sampling of sediment pore water. A series of experiments will be performed using actual near-shore sediments collected from Orange Beach, Alabama and contaminated with known amounts of Louisiana light sweet crude oil. Control experiments will also be performed using oil-free sediments. The experiments will cover a range of shear velocities and will allow shear velocity-re-suspension profiles to be developed. Additionally, changes in sediment-oil pore water chemistry will be examined as a function of water shear velocity and sediment re-suspension.