Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Gulf oil spill disappearing by fast-breeding bacterial microbes

Gulf oil spill: Where has the oil gone? - CSMonitor.com

Since BP capped the renegade Macondo well at the center of the Gulf oil disaster 12 days ago, the oil slick has shrunk to about 10,000 square miles from 80,000 square miles in just a matter of weeks.

The reduction has amazed scientists who are tracking the spill and raised many questions about where all the oil has gone. An 800-vessel skimming fleet that weeks ago pulled in 25,000 barrels of oil a day could barely find 50 barrels a day late last week. That means much of the up to 3 million barrels suspected to be remaining in the Gulf has largely gone off the radar.

It's clear the Gulf is doing what Louisiana State University biologist Ed Overton calls "Mother Nature's work" in breaking down the patchy oil. Oil-eating bacterial microbes are working at a fast pace. But scientists are still unsure of the longer term environmental impact. Many fishermen are convinced that much of the oil is suspended in the water column or has drifted to the bottom, where it's impacting oyster beds, crab herds, and spawning fish schools.

As oil now becomes harder to find, BP is considering whether to shift the Vessels of Opportunity program, a BP initiative that's employed hundreds of out-of-work fishing crews, from oil collection to oil detection missions in order to keep them working.

Nuke the oil spill: Could nuclear bomb be answer for huge leaks as at US Gulf coast?

In the next act of the drama of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, two of the most important heroes don't look like heroes. They are just thin green stalks, sticking out of grass too wet to stand on. They are cordgrass and wiregrass, common species that wave in the winds in south Louisiana's coastal marshes. Except, in some places, they aren't waving anymore: Where oil has sloshed into the marshes, their stalks are matted and gooey and on their way to death.

Thankfully, this is not wimpy grass.

Scientists say many oiled plants will simply shed dead stalks and put up new ones. If those are killed by another slug of oil, it will put up others.
It's already happening. One recent day, Alexander Kolker of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium went out onto the state's Barataria Bay to look at heavily oiled patches of grass. In among the black, he said, there were little spots of green.
New shoots, already pushing up through the oil. Mother nature at work.

Now they can not find the oil slick.

More post from Wag This Dog.
President Obama pledges co-operation with Canada for Oil
Report, Biofuels Ethanol will not Replace Oil.
Five Nations Urge Oil Producers to Boost Output.

Share this post, Email a friend, Leave a comment, Subscribe to Wag This Dog, Link to any post.

Technorati Tags:

No comments:

Post a Comment