Sponsored by


Note: This story is more than 10 years old.

Undersea oil plumes 'definitively connected' to BP leak

This story was originally published by ProPublica.

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for The Big Story newsletter to receive stories like this one in your inbox.

Scientists from the University of South Florida announced on Friday that they have "definitively connected" the underwater oil plumes to BP's ruptured and still slightly leaking well in the Gulf.

Last month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration confirmed that the oil plumes were from BP's well. At the time, that conclusion was based on what the agency called a "preponderance of evidence," but no chemical fingerprinting of samples had yet conclusively determined origin.

A team of Florida scientists was trying to perform the chemical fingerprinting, but as we noted, BP had initially refused to provide it with samples of oil from its well. After several Florida lawmakers intervened, BP representatives said the scientists would receive their samples, and three weeks later, the company handed them over.

One of the scientists, chemical oceanographer David Hollander, called the spill a "three-dimensional catastrophe." Hollander had earlier called BP's refusal to provide samples "a little unsettling."

NOAA also released a new analysis of the subsea oil. That analysis confirmed that the "subsurface oil concentrations are highest near the wellhead and become more diffuse farther away from the source," and that areas of lower oxygen readings are also where concentrations of oil are elevated.

According to NOAA, this could be due to oil- and methane-eating microbes that deplete oxygen in the water - potentially exacerbating the Gulf's "dead zones."

One marine sciences professor told McClatchy Newspapers last week that these microbes have grown "surprisingly fast" within oil plumes.

- 30 -
have your say   


There are no comments on this report. Sorry, comments are closed.

Sorry, we missed your input...

You must be logged in or register to comment

Read all of TucsonSentinel.com's
coronavirus reporting here »

Click image to enlarge


Oil from the damaged Deepwater Horizon oil well lingered off the Mississippi Delta on July 4, 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra captured this natural-color image the same day. The oil appears as an uneven light gray shape east-southeast of the Mississippi Delta. The oil was visible to MODIS on July 4 thanks to sunglint. Oil smoothes the surface of the water, making it a better mirror of sunlight. As a result, close to the Sun’s reflection, the oil is brighter than surrounding water. This is especially true between the Mississippi Delta and the Deepwater Horizon location. East of the rig, however, sunglint lightens most of the water, making it more difficult to distinguish oil from oil-free water.