Enormous Oil Plumes Under the Surface in Gulf
Published: May 17, 2010
Huge plumes of oil have been found in the Gulf of Mexico that cover large expanses of underwater area, as reported by the New York Times. Some of these plumes have been reported by scientists to be 10 miles long, 3 miles wide, and 300 ft thick. This evidence is just one of many other findings that show the BP oil spill to be much worse than previously thought. The most shocking part is the amount of oil found below the surface relative to what seen under water. The amount of oil that is below the surface has spread to almost five water columns under the surface, a disturbing reality for wildlife in the Gulf.
The habitats affected by these plumes could prove to be deadly in the coming months. The more oil that gathers in a certain area, the more the oxygen levels in the water decrease. In a month or two, if these trends continue, oxygen could deplete so much that organisms will begin to die off. This discovery is alarming and worrying scientists about the devastating biological impacts of this spill.
Dr. Joye said the oxygen had already dropped 30 percent near some of the plumes in the month that the broken oil well had been flowing. “If you keep those kinds of rates up, you could draw the oxygen down to very low levels that are dangerous to animals in a couple of months,” she said Saturday. “That is alarming.”
Scientists have estimated that the oil is gushing out of the leak at a rate of somewhere between 25,000 to 80,000 barrels a day. This is a far cry from the governments estimate of 5,000 barrels a day amid BP’s refusal to allow scientists to give accurate measurements of just how much oil is going into the ocean. Scientists also fear that BP’s use of dispersal chemicals has actually helped create these large plumes. These plumes may have been created instead of spreading droplets of oil throughout the gulf to make them less of an impact in one place. BP has touted this technic as working wonderfully, and it may come under scrutiny if scientists fears are realized. Worries such as low oxygen levels are also fostering fears of possible dead zones as the oil plumes grow. Life in certain areas of the Gulf could cease to exist as more oil is leaked into the water.
Photo via Time