"an infusion of oil and gas unlike anything else that has ever been seen anywhere, certainly in human history"

Scientist Awed by Size, Density of Undersea Oil Plume
Researchers aboard the F.G. Walton Smith vessel briefed reporters on a two-week cruise in which they traced an underwater oil plum 15 miles wide, 3 miles long and about 600 feet thick. The plume's core is 1,100 to 1,300 meters below the surface, they said.

"It's an infusion of oil and gas unlike anything else that has ever been seen anywhere, certainly in human history," said Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia, the expedition leader.

Bacteria are breaking down the oil's hydrocarbons in a massive, microorganism feeding frenzy that has sent oxygen levels plunging close to what is considered "dead zone" conditions, at which most marine life are smothered for a lack of dissolved oxygen.

Joye said her team also measured extremely high levels of methane, which is also spewing from the gushing BP well at up to 10,000 times background levels in Gulf waters. "I've been working in the Gulf of Mexico for 15 years," Joye said. "I've never seen methane concentration this high anywhere in the water."

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6 Responses:

  1. oedipamaas49 says:

    "underwater oil plum" is perfect, though. James and the Giant Peach meets 20,000 leagues under the sea, with maybe a dash of Killer Tomatoes.

    Oddly, I can't even get angry about this any more; I'm just too swamped by the scale and horror of the thing.

  2. strspn says:

    Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, who is leading the federal response to the spill, questioned the use of the term "plume" to describe that underwater oil.

    "The term 'plume' has been used for quite awhile, [but] I think what we are talking about are concentrations," he said. "'Cloud' is a better term."

    Well. I'm glad we have that straightened out. I think the chairs would go best in a circle on deck, so we can have a nice conversation while we wait for the rescue choppers to save us.

    This "corral" idea is pretty good.

  3. fantasygoat says:

    "I've been working in the Gulf of Mexico for 15 years," Joye said. "I've never seen methane concentration this high anywhere in the water."

    If only they were around 31 years ago!

  4. This "oil plume" is 99.99995% seawater - according to NOAA.

  5. gryazi says:

    As awful as this all is, "at least something's eating it."

    Because the only thing worse than an "oilpocalypse" would be an "oilpocalypse" that actually did stick around forever.