Amazing, new Gulf oil pictures from USM research vessel - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Amazing, new Gulf oil pictures from USM research vessel

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(Photo source: Dr. Vernon Asper) (Photo source: Dr. Vernon Asper)

GULF OF MEXICO (WLOX) - A team of Mississippi scientists is documenting the growing oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. Dr. Vernon Asper, Professor of Marine Sciences at USM and Chairman of the Commission of Marine Resources, sent an email to WLOX News saying he's at "ground zero" of the oil spill and got within 1,000 yards of the site of the leak from the Deepwater Horizon well.

"It hasn't seen any dispersant applied and is pretty fresh," Asper said. "We have been sampling the sediments at and to the north of the site and haven't seen large amounts of oil in the sediments, but that's not too surprising, given how deep the water is. This afternoon, we visited an area where National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology (NIUST) has been studying the sea floor for nearly a decade and there was a LOT of oil there," Asper wrote.

Asper is on the Research Vessel Pelican working with NIUST researchers from the University of Mississippi. The group is on a two-legged cruise according to Asper.

On the first leg, researchers are looking at the sediments around the site and at some aspects of the water, as well as what's floating on the surface.

"NIUST has been supporting a permanent sea floor observatory site less than 10 miles from the spill center; so we are very interested in seeing how it will impact the area and we have an enormous amount of baseline data with which to compare these measurements," Asper wrote.

"On the next leg, we will have some more sophisticated gear along and are hoping to sample some of the environmental aspects more intensively."

The National Institute for Undersea Science and Technology (NIUST) was established in 2002 by the University of Southern Mississippi and the University of Mississippi in partnership with NOAA's Undersea Research Program (NURP) to develop and apply new technologies that enhance undersea research.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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