If the oil remains fairly buoyant, it is inclined to travel with the tides until it reaches land and incorporates into the soil that is above and below water. The oil can travel farther inland, helped by narrow channels and by strong weather or tides. When man made chemicals have been used to break down the components of the oil mass, there is now an oil/chemical mass.
Thanks to the current deterioriation of the northern gulf land, some areas that used to be farmland is now permanently or seasonally under water. Seasonal farmlands and shallow basins will have components of the oil/chemical mass that are permanently incorporated into the soil and the water tables after hurricanes, floods and tidal incursions, even in places that are miles from the ocean.
The intertidal benthic zone is a salty environment, where underwater and subsoil species live and thrive. The brackish zone has less saline and more muddy or silty bottoms, where brackish species live on or under the soil, rocks, logs and outcroppings. The freshwater zone has silty or muddy bottoms where freshwater species thrive on or under the soil, rocks, submerged objects or outcroppings. All of these are subject to smothering by heavier components of oil that separate from lighter components and sink to the bottom.
Shallower and warmer waters of the intertidal zones, marshes and brackish zones might encourage the separation or venting off of lighter components of the oil, then formation of denser oil plugs and globules that retain poisons, natural and man made chemicals and smothering potential, but which can still be carried far inland by hurricane water surges or stronger tides.
Estuaries and narrow channels concentrate the power of tides and water surges, making it more likely that the heavier oil can move even farther inland.
The riparian zone includes waterways and the surrounding land, including fresh or saline underground water tables. These can all be permanently chemically and physically altered by oil/chemical incursions.
The chemical composition of the water may be forever changed as the more volatile components of the oil remain on the surface, blocking light or converting between gas and liquid. The more volatile components will convert to gas and work their way into the atmosphere.
Aquatic plant life that dies or fails to reproduce at any stage leads to lower oxygen in the water, which leads to several consequences: oxygen dependent life forms either die, fail to reproduce, or migrate into areas that are already populated, creating overpopulation.
Eggs, larvae, seeds and all other life precursors will be affected by smothering, poisoning, overpopulation, metabolic and reproductive damage or imbalances between predator and prey.
Land plants, grasses, shrubs and trees in areas that are low enough to be flooded with the oil/chemical mass might be unable to thrive or gestate in soil and water that is saturated by poisons, suffocates or intolerable alterations to the chemical, biological and physical properties of the soil.
Brackish life forms that find food, reproduction and oxygen levels intolerable have a narrow range of habitat and may fail to thrive when attempting to escape to more or less saline destinations.
Birds and animals will find themselves suffocated, poisoned, sickened or impaired by oil that covers their fur, feathers and skin. Their health will be compromised by food and water that is altered or poisoned. As the food chain dies out from the bottom up, birds and animals will be forced to migrate into populated areas, creating overpopulation or invasion that presents harm to human settlements.
Birds, animals and their offspring that require very specific habitats may not be able to withstand migration or disruptions to their normal migrations.
All lifeforms may suffer extensive and long lasting physical, metabolic and reproductive consequences of the many components and chemicals involved in a post spill oil/chemical mass.
Much of the deeper inland and future brackish, intertidal and benthic zone damage depends on the volatility of the upcoming hurricane season, the possibility of tsunamis from earthquakes in the gulf and Caribbean region, the changing temperatures of deeper and shallower water, and the ability of both the heavier and lighter components of the chemical/oil mass to be moved through the channels, marshes and estuaries of the low lying lands of the Mississippi delta.