The WHOI researchers took a close look at photos they had taken of the debris on the Chandeleur Islands and found this weathered sticker. They confirmed that it was syntactic foam flotation from the Deepwater Horizon rig. Photo source: © Chris Reddy / Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Shortly after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, mysterious honeycomb material was found floating in the Gulf of Mexico and along coastal beaches. Using state-of-the-art chemical forensics a research team led by scientists at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) confirmed that the flotsam were pieces of material used to maintain buoyancy of the pipe bringing up oil from the seafloor.
“These results,” the study’s authors wrote, “provide insights into the fate of debris fields deriving from damaged marine materials and should be incorporated into emergency response efforts and forecasting of coastal impacts during future offshore oil spills.”