Was the Extreme and Wide-Spread Marine Oil-Snow Sedimentation and Flocculent Accumulation (MOSSFA) Event during the Deepwater Horizon Blow-out Unique?

Document Type


Publication Date



Deepwater Horizon, Benthic contamination, Oil fate, Marine snow, Blow-out, Dispersants

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



During the Deepwater Horizon blowout, thick layers of oiled material were deposited on the deep seafloor. This large scale benthic concentration of oil is suggested to have occurred via the process of Marine Oil Snow Sedimentation and Flocculent Accumulation (MOSSFA). This meta-analysis investigates whether MOSSFA occurred in other large oil spills and identifies the main drivers of oil sedimentation. MOSSFA was found to have occurred during the IXTOC I blowout and possibly during the Santa Barbara blowout. Unfortunately, benthic effects were not sufficiently studied for the 52 spills we reviewed. However, based on the current understanding of drivers involved, we conclude that MOSSFA and related benthic contamination may be widespread. We suggest to collect and analyze sediment cores at specific spill locations, as improved understanding of the MOSSFA process will allow better informed spill responses in the future, taking into account possible massive oil sedimentation and smothering of (deep) benthic ecosystems.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Marine Pollution Bulletin, v. 100, issue 1, p. 5-12