Northern California Science Writers Association

Oil Spills and Microbes: Can Mother Nature Take a Punch?

  • Thursday, October 07, 2010
  • Pyramid Ale House
WHO: Terry Hazen, microbial ecologist with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a principal investigator with both the Energy Biosciences Institute and the Joint BioEnergy Institute. Hazen's team spent months studying the Gulf spill from the front lines as it unfolded, on board the R/V Ferrel and several other research vessels (his team continues to work there).

WHEN: Thursday, October 7, 2010

WHERE: Pyramid Ale House, 901 Gilman Street, Berkeley

Can Mother Nature take a punch and stay standing? If the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is any indication, then the answer seems to be yes. The damaged BP wellhead dispersed an immense oil plume 4,000 feet below the surface of the water. Despite spanning more than 2,000 feet in the water column and extending more than 10 miles from the wellhead, the dispersed oil plume was gone within a month after the wellhead was capped – degraded to undetectable levels. Furthermore, this degradation took place without significant oxygen depletion. The main degrader was a new and unclassified species of oil-eating bug that apparently lives on the floor of the Gulf where oil seeps are common. Was this event a miracle or simply nature’s own environmental restoration crews doing what they do? Hazen will address these questions through the lens of his own landmark studiesundefinedpublished just a few days ago in the journal Science.

Hazen is a 30-year veteran investigator of oil-spill sites, with knowledge of the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound. Come hear him explain what happened in the Gulf and what the implications are for future spills.

6:00 pm - No-host happy hour
7:00 pm - Dinner
8:00 pm - Speaker

Information, maps, and directions:

Sign-up Deadline: Friday October 1, 2010

Reservations are currently closed for this dinner.

The cost is $28/members (each member may bring one guest at that price), $33/nonmembers, $18/students.

Dinner will be buffet style and feature honey cilantro chicken breast with salsa fresca, bacon-wrapped meatloaf and tortellini pesto primavera, plus mixed-green salad, seasonal vegetables and garlic mashed potatoes. As befitting a microbrewery, there are many beers to choose from at the no-host bar - among other beverages.
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