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    Post: Where Is the Oil? On the Gulf's Bottom,

    Posted by Sharon on 9/13/10

    Where Is the Oil? On the Gulf's Bottom, Scientists Say

    AOL News (Sept. 13) -- The oil many thought had evaporated
    or dispersed into the Gulf of Mexico is instead resting on
    the seafloor, scientists say.

    Researchers say they've found a thick layer of oil, likely
    from the BP spill, covering wide swaths of the bottom of
    the gulf.

    "We're finding it everywhere that we've looked. The oil is
    not gone," professor Samantha Joye of the Department of
    Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia, told ABC
    News. "It's in places where nobody has looked for it."

    A layer of oil is shown on a sediment core. Oil can be
    found "all over the place" on the Gulf of Mexico seafloor,
    some as much as 2 inches thick, University of Georgia
    professor Samantha Joye says.Joye, who is studying the
    impact of the spill from the research vessel Oceanus, said
    the oil is as much as 2 inches thick in some areas. It can
    be found as far as 16 miles from the site of the Deepwater
    Horizon disaster, she added.

    "I've collected literally hundreds of sediment cores from
    the Gulf of Mexico, including around this area. And I've
    never seen anything like this," Joye told NPR today.

    The oil could have serious implications for creatures who
    rely on oxygen and sediments from the seafloor to survive,
    said Alice Alldredge of the Department of Ecology,
    Evolution and Marine Biology at the University of
    California, Santa Barbara.

    She told AOL News that there is already a lack of oxygen in
    the gulf due to the oil-eating bacteria. "This could have a
    smothering effect," Alldredge said. "Oil is toxic. Many
    organisms are not capable of surviving in toxic

    Millions of barrels of crude have been emptied into the
    gulf since the April 20 explosion that killed 11 workers
    and set off the worst environmental disaster in U.S.
    history. Much of the crude was consumed by a naturally
    occurring, oil-eating bacteria.

    But the oil sheen disappeared from the water's surface just
    months after the well was capped, leading many scientists
    to wonder if oil had become suspended in giant plumes in
    the water column or had been dispersed by chemicals. Others
    declared the substance all but vanquished. In August, Carol
    Browner, a White House energy adviser, said that "the vast
    majority of the oil is gone."

    The mystery may be over, however. Scientists now say that
    much of the oil from the BP spill is very likely on the
    gulf floor. In August, researchers from the University of
    South Florida found evidence that the crude may have come
    to rest on the bottom of the gulf as well, according to a
    report in NPR.

    "We have to [chemically] fingerprint it and link it to the
    Deepwater Horizon," Joye told NPR. "But the sheer coverage
    here is leading us all to come to the conclusion that it
    has to be sedimented oil from the oil spill, because it's
    all over the place."
    Filed under: Nation, Science

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