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The GULF OF MEXICO (Spanish : _Golfo de México_) is an ocean basin and a marginal sea of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
, largely surrounded by the North American continent. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast
Gulf Coast
of the United States
United States
, on the southwest and south by Mexico
Mexico
, and on the southeast by Cuba
Cuba
. The U.S. states of Alabama
Alabama
, Florida
Florida
, Louisiana
Louisiana
, Mississippi
Mississippi
and Texas
Texas
border the Gulf on the north, which are often referred to as the " Third Coast " in comparison with the U.S. Atlantic and Pacific coasts, or sometimes the "south coast", in juxtaposition to the Great Lakes region being the "north coast." One of the gulf's seven main areas is the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
basin .

The Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
formed approximately 300 million years ago as a result of plate tectonics . The Gulf's basin is roughly oval and is approximately 810 nautical miles (1,500 km; 930 mi) wide and floored by sedimentary rocks and recent sediments. It is connected to part of the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
through the Florida
Florida
Straits between the U.S. and Cuba, and with the Caribbean (with which it forms the American Mediterranean Sea ) via the Yucatán Channel between Mexico
Mexico
and Cuba. With the narrow connection to the Atlantic, the Gulf experiences very small tidal ranges . The size of the Gulf basin is approximately 1.6 million km2 (615,000 sq mi). Almost half of the basin is shallow continental shelf waters. The basin contains a volume of roughly 2,500 quadrillion liters (550 quadrillion Imperial gallons, 660 quadrillion US gallons, 2.5 million km3 or 600,000 cu mi).

CONTENTS

* 1 Extent * 2 Geology

* 3 History

* 3.1 European exploration

* 4 Shipwrecks

* 5 Geography

* 5.1 2006 earthquake * 5.2 Maritime boundary delimitation agreements

* 6 Biota

* 7 Pollution

* 7.1 _Ixtoc I_ explosion and oil spill * 7.2 _Deepwater Horizon_ explosion and oil spill

* 7.3 Minor oil spills

* 7.3.1 _Brutus_ oil spill

* 8 See also * 9 References * 10 External links

EXTENT

The International Hydrographic Organization defines the southeast limit of the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
as follows:

A line leaving Cape Catoche Light (21°37′N 87°04′W / 21.617°N 87.067°W / 21.617; -87.067 ) with the Light on Cape San Antonio in Cuba, through this island to the meridian of 83°W and to the Northward along this meridian to the latitude of the South point of the Dry Tortugas (24°35'N), along this parallel Eastward to Rebecca Shoal (82°35'W) thence through the shoals and Florida
Florida
Keys to the mainland at eastern end of Florida
Florida
Bay , all the narrow waters between the Dry Tortugas and the mainland being considered to be within the Gulf.

GEOLOGY

Sediment
Sediment
in the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico

The consensus among geologists who have studied the geology of the Gulf of Mexico, is that prior to the Late Triassic , the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
did not exist. Before the Late Triassic, the area now occupied by the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
consisted of dry land, which included continental crust that now underlies Yucatán , within the middle of the large supercontinent of Pangea
Pangea
. This land lay south of a continuous mountain range that extended from north-central Mexico, through the Marathon Uplift in West Texas
Texas
and the Ouachita Mountains of Oklahoma
Oklahoma
, and to Alabama
Alabama
where it linked directly to the Appalachian Mountains . It was created by the collision of continental plates that formed Pangea. As interpreted by Roy Van Arsdale and Randel T. Cox, this mountain range was breached in Late Cretaceous times by the formation of the Mississippi
Mississippi
Embayment .

Geologists and other Earth
Earth
scientists agree in general that the present Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
basin originated in Late Triassic time as the result of rifting within Pangea. The rifting was associated with zones of weakness within Pangea, including sutures where the Laurentia , South American, and African plates collided to create it. First, there was a Late Triassic-Early Jurassic phase of rifting during which rift valleys formed and filled with continental red beds . Second, as rifting progressed through Early and Middle Jurassic time, continental crust was stretched and thinned. This thinning created a broad zone of thick transitional crust, which displays modest and uneven thinning with block faulting, and a broad zone of uniformly thinned transitional crust, which is half the typical thickness, 35 kilometers , of normal continental crust. It was at this time that tectonics first created a connection to the Pacific Ocean
Ocean
across central Mexico and later eastward to the Atlantic Ocean. This flooded the subsiding basin created by rifting and crustal thinning to create the Gulf of Mexico. While the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
was a restricted basin, the subsiding transitional crust was blanketed by the widespread deposition of Louann Salt and associated anhydrite evaporites . Initially, during the Late Jurassic, continued rifting widened the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
and progressed to the point that sea-floor spreading and formation of oceanic crust occurred. At this point, sufficient circulation with the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
was established that the deposition of Louann Salt ceased.

During the Late Jurassic through Early Cretaceous, the basin occupied by the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
experienced a period of cooling and subsidence of the crust underlying it. The subsidence was the result of a combination of crustal stretching, cooling, and loading. Initially, the combination of crustal stretching and cooling caused about 5–7 km of tectonic subsidence of the central thin transitional and oceanic crust. Because subsidence occurred faster than sediment could fill it, the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
expanded and deepened.

Later, loading of the crust within the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
and adjacent coastal plain by the accumulation of kilometers of sediments during the rest of the Mesozoic and all of the Cenozoic further depressed the underlying crust to its current position about 10–20 km below sea level. Particularly during the Cenozoic, thick clastic wedges built out the continental shelf along the northwestern and northern margins of the Gulf of Mexico.

To the east, the stable Florida
Florida
platform was not covered by the sea until the latest Jurassic or the beginning of Cretaceous
Cretaceous
time. The Yucatán platform was emergent until the mid-Cretaceous. After both platforms were submerged, the formation of carbonates and evaporites has characterized the geologic history of these two stable areas. Most of the basin was rimmed during the Early Cretaceous
Cretaceous
by carbonate platforms, and its western flank was involved during the latest Cretaceous
Cretaceous
and early Paleogene
Paleogene
periods in a compressive deformation episode, the Laramide Orogeny , which created the Sierra Madre Oriental of eastern Mexico.

In 2002 geologist Michael Stanton published a speculative essay suggesting an impact origin for the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
at the close of the Permian
Permian
, which could have caused the Permian– Triassic extinction event . However, Gulf Coast
Gulf Coast
geologists do not regard this hypothesis as having any credibility. Instead they overwhelmingly accept plate tectonics, not an asteroid impact, as having created the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
as illustrated by papers authored by Kevin Mickus and others. This hypothesis is not to be confused with the Chicxulub Crater , a large impact crater on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
on the Yucatán Peninsula.

Today, the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
has the following 7 main areas:

* Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
basin , which contains the Sigsbee Deep and can be further divided into the continental rise, the Sigsbee Abyssal Plain , and the Mississippi
Mississippi
Cone . * Northeast Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
, which extends from a point east of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
Delta near Biloxi to the eastern side of Apalachee Bay . * South Florida
Florida
Continental Shelf and Slope , which extends along the coast from Apalachee Bay to the Straits of Florida
Florida
and includes the Florida
Florida
Keys and Dry Tortugas . * Campeche
Campeche
Bank , which extends from the Yucatán Straits in the east to the Tabasco Campeche
Campeche
Basin in the west and includes Arrecife Alacran . * Bay of Campeche
Campeche
, which is an isthmian embayment extending from the western edge of Campeche
Campeche
Bank to the offshore regions just east of the port of Veracruz . * Western Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
, which is located between Veracruz to the south and the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
to the north. * Northwest Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
, which extends from Alabama
Alabama
to the Rio Grande.

HISTORY

EUROPEAN EXPLORATION

_ This section DOES NOT CITE ANY SOURCES . Please help improve this section by adding citations to reliable sources . Unsourced material may be challenged and removed . (June 2010)_ _(Learn how and when to remove this template message )_

Fishing boats in Biloxi Graph showing the overall water temperature of the Gulf between Hurricanes Katrina and Rita . Although Katrina cooled waters in its path by up to 4 °C, they had rebounded by the time of Rita's appearance.

Although Christopher Columbus was credited with the discovery of the Americas
Americas
by Europeans, the ships in his four voyages never reached the Gulf of Mexico. Instead, Columbus sailed into the Caribbean around Cuba
Cuba
and Hispaniola
Hispaniola
. The first European exploration of the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
was by Amerigo Vespucci
Amerigo Vespucci
in 1497. He followed the coastal land mass of Central America
Central America
before returning to the Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
via the Straits of Florida
Florida
between Florida
Florida
and Cuba. In his letters, Vespucci described this trip, and once Juan de la Cosa returned to Spain, a famous world map , depicting Cuba
Cuba
as an island, was produced.

In 1506, Hernán Cortés took part in the conquest of Hispaniola
Hispaniola
and Cuba, receiving a large estate of land and Indian slaves for his effort. In 1510, he accompanied Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar , an aide of the governor of Hispaniola, in his expedition to conquer Cuba. In 1518 Velázquez put him in command of an expedition to explore and secure the interior of Mexico
Mexico
for colonization.

In 1517, Francisco Hernández de Córdoba discovered the Yucatán Peninsula . This was the first European encounter with an advanced civilization in the Americas
Americas
, with solidly built buildings and a complex social organization which they recognized as being comparable to those of the Old World ; they also had reason to expect that this new land would have gold . All of this encouraged two further expeditions, the first in 1518 under the command of Juan de Grijalva , and the second in 1519 under the command of Hernán Cortés, which led to the Spanish exploration, military invasion, and ultimately settlement and colonization known as the Conquest of Mexico
Mexico
. Hernández did not live to see the continuation of his work: he died in 1517, the year of his expedition, as the result of the injuries and the extreme thirst suffered during the voyage, and disappointed in the knowledge that Diego Velázquez had given precedence to Grijalva as the captain of the next expedition to Yucatán.

In 1523, Ángel de Villafañe sailed toward Mexico
Mexico
City , but was shipwrecked en route along the coast of Padre Island , Texas, in 1554. When word of the disaster reached Mexico
Mexico
City, the viceroy requested a rescue fleet and immediately sent Villafañe marching overland to find the treasure-laden vessels. Villafañe traveled to Pánuco and hired a ship to transport him to the site, which had already been visited from that community. He arrived in time to greet García de Escalante Alvarado (a nephew of Pedro de Alvarado), commander of the salvage operation, when Alvarado arrived by sea on July 22, 1554. The team labored until September 12 to salvage the Padre Island treasure. This loss, in combination with other ship disasters around the Gulf of Mexico, gave rise to a plan for establishing a settlement on the northern Gulf Coast
Gulf Coast
to protect shipping and more quickly rescue castaways. As a result, the expedition of Tristán de Luna y Arellano was sent and landed at Pensacola Bay on August 15, 1559.

On December 11, 1526, Charles V granted Pánfilo de Narváez a license to claim what is now the Gulf Coast
Gulf Coast
of the United States, known as the Narváez expedition . The contract gave him one year to gather an army, leave Spain, be large enough to found at least two towns of 100 people each, and garrison two more fortresses anywhere along the coast. On April 7, 1528, they spotted land north of what is now Tampa
Tampa
Bay . They turned south and traveled for two days looking for a great harbor the master pilot Miruelo knew of. Sometime during these two days, one of the five remaining ships was lost on the rugged coast, but nothing else is known of it.

In 1697, Pierre Le Moyne d\'Iberville sailed for France and was chosen by the Minister of Marine to lead an expedition to rediscover the mouth of the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
and to colonize Louisiana
Louisiana
which the English coveted. Iberville's fleet sailed from Brest on October 24, 1698. On January 25, 1699, Iberville reached Santa Rosa Island in front of Pensacola
Pensacola
founded by the Spanish; he sailed from there to Mobile Bay and explored Massacre Island, later renamed Dauphin Island . He cast anchor between Cat Island and Ship Island ; and on February 13, 1699, he went to the mainland, Biloxi, with his brother Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville . On May 1, 1699, he completed a fort on the north-east side of the Bay of Biloxi, a little to the rear of what is now Ocean
Ocean
Springs, Mississippi
Mississippi
. This fort was known as Fort Maurepas or Old Biloxi. A few days later, on May 4, Pierre Le Moyne sailed for France leaving his teenage brother, Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, as second in command to the French commandant.

SHIPWRECKS

The _Mardi Gras _ shipwreck around the early-19th century about 35 miles off the coast of Louisiana
Louisiana
in 4,000 feet (1220 meters) of water. She is believed to have been a privateer or trader. The shipwreck, whose real identity remains a mystery, lay forgotten at the bottom of the sea until it was discovered in 2002 by an oilfield inspection crew working for the Okeanos Gas Gathering Company (OGGC). In May 2007, an expedition, led by Texas
Texas
A&M University and funded by OGGC under an agreement with the Minerals Management Service (now BOEM
BOEM
), was launched to undertake the deepest scientific archaeological excavation ever attempted at that time to study the site on the seafloor and recover artifacts for eventual public display in the Louisiana
Louisiana
State Museum . As part of the project educational outreach Nautilus Productions in partnership with BOEM
BOEM
, Texas
Texas
A&M University, the Florida
Florida
Public Archaeology Network and Veolia Environmental produced a one-hour HD documentary about the project, short videos for public viewing and provided video updates during the expedition. Video footage from the ROV was an integral part of this outreach and used extensively in the _Mystery Mardi Gras Shipwreck_ documentary.

On July 30, 1942 the _Robert E. Lee_, captained by William C. Heath, was torpedoed by the German submarine _U-166_ . She was sailing southeast of the entrance to the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
when the explosion destroyed the #3 hold, vented through the B and C decks and damaged the engines, the radio compartment and the steering gear. After the attack she was under escort by the _USS PC-566_, captained by LCDR Herbert G. Claudius, en route to New Orleans
New Orleans
. The _USS PC-566_ began dropping depth charges on a sonar contact, sinking the _U-166_. The badly damaged _Robert E. Lee_ first listed to port then to starboard and finally sank within about 15 minutes of the attack. One officer, nine crewmen and 15 passengers were lost. Ironically the passengers aboard the _Robert E. Lee_ were primarily survivors of previous torpedo attacks by German U-boats. The wreck's precise location was discovered during the C & C Marine survey that located the _U-166_.

The German submarine _U-166_ was a Type IXC U-boat of Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
's _ Kriegsmarine _ during World War II. The submarine was laid down on December 6, 1940 at the Seebeckwerft (part of Deutsche Schiff- und Maschinenbau AG , Deschimag) at Wesermünde (modern Bremerhaven) as yard number 705, launched on November 1, 1941 and commissioned on March 23, 1942 under the command of _ Oberleutnant zur See _ Hans-Günther Kuhlmann. After training with the 4th U-boat Flotilla , _U-166_ was transferred to the 10th U-boat Flotilla for front-line service on June 1, 1942. The U-boat sailed on only two war patrols and sank four ships totalling 7,593 gross register tons (GRT) . She was sunk on July 30, 1942 in Gulf of Mexico.

In 2001 the wreck of _U-166_ was located in 5,000 feet (1,500 m) of water, less than two miles from where it had attacked the _Robert E. Lee_. An archaeological survey of the seafloor prior to construction of a natural gas pipeline led to the discoveries by C "> Gulf beach near Sabine Pass The Mississippi River
Mississippi River
Watershed is the largest drainage basin of the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
Watershed. Map of northern part of Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
The shaded relief map of the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
and Caribbean area.

The Gulf of Mexico's eastern, northern, and northwestern shores lie along the US states of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi
Mississippi
, Louisiana, and Texas. The US portion of the Gulf coastline spans 1,680 miles (2,700 km), receiving water from 33 major rivers that drain 31 states. The Gulf's southwestern and southern shores lie along the Mexican states of Tamaulipas , Veracruz , Tabasco , Campeche
Campeche
, Yucatán , and the northernmost tip of Quintana Roo . The Mexican portion of the Gulf coastline spans 1,743 miles (2,805 km). On its southeast quadrant the Gulf is bordered by Cuba. It supports major American, Mexican and Cuban fishing industries. The outer margins of the wide continental shelves of Yucatán and Florida
Florida
receive cooler, nutrient -enriched waters from the deep by a process known as upwelling , which stimulates plankton growth in the euphotic zone . This attracts fish, shrimp, and squid. River
River
drainage and atmospheric fallout from industrial coastal cities also provide nutrients to the coastal zone.

The Gulf Stream , a warm Atlantic Ocean
Atlantic Ocean
current and one of the strongest ocean currents known, originates in the gulf, as a continuation of the Caribbean Current - Yucatán Current-Loop Current system. Other circulation features include the anticyclonic gyres which are shed by the Loop Current and travel westward where they eventually dissipate, and a permanent cyclonic gyre in the Bay of Campeche. The Bay of Campeche
Campeche
in Mexico
Mexico
constitutes a major arm of the Gulf of Mexico. Additionally, the gulf's shoreline is fringed by numerous bays and smaller inlets. A number of rivers empty into the gulf, most notably the Mississippi River
Mississippi River
and Rio Grande
Rio Grande
in the northern gulf, and the Grijalva and Usumacinta rivers in the southern gulf. The land that forms the gulf's coast, including many long, narrow barrier islands, is almost uniformly low-lying and is characterized by marshes and swamps as well as stretches of sandy beach.

The Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
is an excellent example of a passive margin . The continental shelf is quite wide at most points along the coast, most notably at the Florida
Florida
and Yucatán Peninsulas. The shelf is exploited for its oil by means of offshore drilling rigs, most of which are situated in the western gulf and in the Bay of Campeche. Another important commercial activity is fishing; major catches include red snapper , amberjack , tilefish , swordfish , and various grouper , as well as shrimp and crabs . Oysters are also harvested on a large scale from many of the bays and sounds. Other important industries along the coast include shipping, petrochemical processing and storage, military use, paper manufacture, and tourism.

The gulf's warm water temperature can feed powerful Atlantic hurricanes causing extensive human death and other destruction as happened with Hurricane Katrina in 2005. In the Atlantic, a hurricane will draw up cool water from the depths and making it less likely that further hurricanes will follow in its wake (warm water being one of the preconditions necessary for their formation). However, the Gulf is shallower; when a hurricane passes over the water temperature may drop but it soon rebounds and becomes capable of supporting another tropical storm.

The Gulf is considered aseismic ; however, mild tremors have been recorded throughout history (usually 5.0 or less on the Richter magnitude scale ). Earthquakes may be caused by interactions between sediment loading on the sea floor and adjustment by the crust.

2006 EARTHQUAKE

Main article: 2006 Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
earthquake

On September 10, 2006, the U.S. Geological Survey National Earthquake Information Center reported that a magnitude 6.0 earthquake occurred about 250 miles (400 km) west-southwest of Anna Maria, Florida
Florida
, around 10:56 AM EDT . The quake was reportedly felt from Louisiana
Louisiana
to Florida
Florida
in the Southeastern United States
United States
. There were no reports of damage or injuries. Items were knocked from shelves and seiches were observed in swimming pools in parts of Florida. The earthquake was described by the USGS
USGS
as an intraplate earthquake , the largest and most widely felt recorded in the past three decades in the region. According to the September 11, 2006 issue of _The Tampa
Tampa
Tribune _, earthquake tremors were last felt in Florida
Florida
in 1952, recorded in Quincy , 20 miles (32 km) northwest of Tallahassee

MARITIME BOUNDARY DELIMITATION AGREEMENTS

CUBA AND MEXICO: Exchange of notes constituting an agreement on the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone of Mexico
Mexico
in the sector adjacent to Cuban maritime areas (with map), of July 26, 1976.

CUBA AND UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Maritime boundary agreement between the United States
United States
of America and the Republic of Cuba, of December 16, 1977.

MEXICO AND UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Treaty to resolve pending boundary differences and maintain the Rio Grande
Rio Grande
and Colorado River
River
as the international boundary, of November 23, 1970; Treaty on maritime boundaries between the United States
United States
of America and the United Mexican States ( Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean), of May 4, 1978, and Treaty between the Government of the United States
United States
of America and the Government of the United Mexican States on the delimitation of the continental shelf in the Western Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
beyond 200 nautical miles (370 km), of June 9, 2000.

On December 13, 2007, Mexico
Mexico
submitted information to the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS) regarding the extension of Mexico's continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles. Mexico sought an extension of its continental shelf in the Western Polygon based on international law, UNCLOS, and bilateral treaties with the United States, in accordance with Mexico's domestic legislation. On March 13, 2009, the CLCS accepted Mexico's arguments for extending its continental shelf up to 350 NM into the Western Polygon. Since this would extend Mexico's continental shelf well into territory claimed by the United States, however, Mexico
Mexico
and the U.S. would need to enter a bilateral agreement based on international law that delimits their respective claims. ‹ The template below (_Geographic location _) is being considered for deletion. See templates for discussion to help reach a consensus. ›

Texas
Texas
United States Louisiana
Louisiana
Mississippi
Mississippi
Alabama
Alabama
Florida
Florida

Mexico
Mexico
_ Tamaulipas Atlantic Ocean

GULF OF MEXICO_

Veracruz Mexico
Mexico
Tabasco Campeche
Campeche
Yucatán Quintana Roo Cuba
Cuba
Caribbean

BIOTA

Various biota include chemosynthetic communities near cold seeps and nonchemosynthetic communities such as bacteria and other micro – benthos , meiofauna , macrofauna , and megafauna (larger organisms such as crabs , sea pens , crinoids , and demersal fish and cetaceans including endangered ones) are living in the Gulf of Mexico. Recently, resident Bryde\'s whales within the gulf were classified as an endemic, unique subspecies and making them as one of the most endangered whales in the world. The Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
yields more finfish , shrimp, and shellfish annually than the south and mid-Atlantic , Chesapeake , and New England
New England
areas combined.

The Smithsonian Institution Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
holdings are expected to provide an important baseline of understanding for future scientific studies on the impact of the Deepwater Horizon
Deepwater Horizon
oil spill. In Congressional testimony, Dr. Jonathan Coddington, Associate Director of Research and Collections at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History , provides a detailed overview of the Gulf collections and their sources which Museum staff have made available on an online map. The samples were collected for years by the former Minerals Management Service (renamed the Bureau of Ocean
Ocean
Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement ) to help predict the potential impacts of future oil/gas explorations. Since 1979, the specimens have been deposited in the national collections of the National Museum of Natural History.

POLLUTION

Dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico

The major environmental threats to the Gulf are agricultural runoff and oil drilling .

There are frequent "red tide " algae blooms that kill fish and marine mammals and cause respiratory problems in humans and some domestic animals when the blooms reach close to shore. This has especially been plaguing the southwest and southern Florida
Florida
coast, from the Florida
Florida
Keys to north of Pasco County, Florida
Florida
.

The Gulf contains a hypoxic dead zone that runs east-west along the Texas- Louisiana
Louisiana
coastline. In July 2008, researchers reported that between 1985 and 2008, the area roughly doubled in size and now stretches from near Galveston, Texas
Texas
, to near Venice, Louisiana
Louisiana
. It is now about 8,000 square miles (21,000 km2), nearly the record. Poor agricultural practices in the northern portion of the Gulf of Mexico have led to a tremendous increase of nitrogen and phosphorus in neighboring marine ecosystems, which has resulted in algae blooms and a lack of available oxygen. Occurrences of masculinization and estrogen suppression were observed as a result. An October 2007 study of the Atlantic croaker found a disproportioned sex ratio of 61% males to 39% females in hypoxic Gulf sites. This was compared with a 52% to 48% male-female ratio found in reference sites, showing an impairment of reproductive output for fish populations inhabiting hypoxic coastal zones.

There are 27,000 abandoned oil and gas wells beneath the Gulf. These have generally not been checked for potential environmental problems.

_IXTOC I_ EXPLOSION AND OIL SPILL

Main articles: Ixtoc I and Ixtoc I oil spill

In June 1979, the _ Ixtoc I _ oil platform in the Bay of Campeche suffered a blowout leading to a catastrophic explosion, which resulted in a massive oil spill that continued for nine months before the well was finally capped. This was ranked as the largest oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
until the _Deepwater Horizon_ oil spill in 2010.

_DEEPWATER HORIZON_ EXPLOSION AND OIL SPILL

Main articles: Deepwater Horizon explosion and Deepwater Horizon
Deepwater Horizon
oil spill

On April 20, 2010, the _ Deepwater Horizon
Deepwater Horizon
_ oil platform, located in the Mississippi
Mississippi
Canyon about 40 miles (64 km) off the Louisiana
Louisiana
coast, suffered a catastrophic explosion; it sank a day-and-a-half later. It was in the process of being sealed with cement for temporary abandonment, to avoid environmental problems. Although initial reports indicated that relatively little oil had leaked, by April 24, it was claimed by BP that approximately 1,000 barrels (160 m3) of oil per day were issuing from the wellhead , about 1-mile (1.6 km) below the surface on the ocean floor. On April 29, the U.S. government revealed that approximately 5,000 barrels (790 m3) per day, five times the original estimate, were pouring into the Gulf from the wellhead. The resulting oil slick quickly expanded to cover hundreds of square miles of ocean surface, posing a serious threat to marine life and adjacent coastal wetlands , and to the livelihoods of Gulf Coast shrimpers and fishermen. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Sally Brice O'Hare stated that the U.S. government will be "employing booms, skimmers, chemical dispersants and controlled burns" to combat the oil spill. By May 1, 2010, the oil spill cleanup efforts were underway, but hampered by rough seas and the "tea like" consistency of the oil. Cleanup operations were resumed after conditions became favorable. On May 27, 2010, The USGS
USGS
had revised the estimate of the leak from 5,000 barrels per day (790 m3/d) to 12,000–19,000 barrels per day (3,000 m3/d) an increase from earlier estimates . On July 15, 2010, BP announced that the leak stopped for the first time in 88 days.

In July 2015 BP reached an $18.7bn settlement with the US government, the states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi
Mississippi
and Texas, as well as 400 local authorities. To date BP's cost for the clean-up, environmental and economic damages and penalties has reached $54bn.

MINOR OIL SPILLS

According to the National Response Center , the oil industry has thousands of minor accidents in the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
every year.

_Brutus_ Oil Spill

On May 12, 2016, a release of oil from subsea infrastructure on Shell\'s _Brutus_ oil rig released 2,100 barrels of oil. This leak created a visible 2 mile by 13 mile oil slick in the sea about 97 miles south of Port Fourchon , Louisiana
Louisiana
, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

SEE ALSO

Cantarell Field

* Brine pool * Charlotte Harbor Estuary, Florida
Florida
* Gulf Coast
Gulf Coast
* Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
Foundation * Hypoxia * Jack 2 (a test well in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico) * Orca Basin * Outer Continental Shelf
Outer Continental Shelf
* Territorial evolution of the Caribbean

US GULF OF MEXICO PROTRACTION AREAS

* Atwater Valley * East Cameron * Eugene Island * Garden Banks * Green Canyon * Keathley Canyon * Mississippi
Mississippi
Canyon * Sigsbee Escarpment * South Marsh Island * Walker Ridge

REFERENCES

* ^ http://www.deepseawaters.com/Gulf_of_Mexico.htm * ^ "Gulf of Mexico". Geographic Names Information System . January 1, 2000. Retrieved July 8, 2010. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Huerta, A.D., and D.L. Harry (2012) _Wilson cycles, tectonic inheritance, and rifting of the North American Gulf of Mexico continental margin._ Geosphere. 8(1):GES00725.1, first published on March 6, 2012, doi :10.1130/GES00725.1 * ^ _A_ _B_ "General Facts about the Gulf of Mexico". epa.gov. Retrieved December 27, 2006. * ^ "Limits of Oceans and Seas, 3rd edition" (PDF). International Hydrographic Organization. 1953. Retrieved February 7, 2010. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ _D_ Salvador, A. (1991) _Origin and development of the Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
basin_, in A. Salvador, ed., p. 389-444, The Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
Basin: The Geology of North America, v. J., Geological Society of America, Boulder, Colorado. * ^ _A_ _B_ _C_ Stern, R.J., and W.R. Dickinson (2010) _The Gulf of Mexico
Mexico
is a Jurassic backarc basin._ Geosphere. 6(6):739–754. * ^ Van Arsdale, R. B. (2009) _Adventures Through Deep Time: The Central Mississippi River
Mississippi River
Valley and Its Earthquakes._ Special
Special
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