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
"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."
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