Remember reading about those government estimates saying most of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon spill has just sort of vanished? That’s probably wrong.
Well, the latest scientific study published today on the journal Science’s website is the latest report suggesting there are still massive amounts of crude in the Gulf that haven’t surfaced. The study’s authors found a Manhattan-sized oil plume 22 miles long and a mile wide lethargically drifting 3,000 feet below the surface, and scientists aren’t really sure why.
Crude oil generally floats to the surface. But the plume has decided to stay in the deep end and appears to be degrading very slowly. Government estimates initially said three-fourths of the 4.9 billion barrels of oil were simply gone, either by being skimmed, burned, collected, evaporated, dissolved, or chemically or naturally dispersed. While these studies are only small glimpses of what’s really going on beneath the Gulf’s surface, the real answer at the moment seems to be that nobody really knows how much oil is still down there.