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Gulf surface cleaner, but questions lurk far below

August 18th, 2010 . by TexasFred

Gulf surface cleaner, but questions lurk far below

WASHINGTON (AP) – Researchers are warning that the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is a bigger mess than the government claims and that a lot of crude is lurking deep below the surface, some of it settling perhaps in a critical undersea canyon off the Florida Panhandle.

The evidence of microscopic amounts of oil mixing into the soil of the canyon was gathered by scientists at the University of South Florida, who also found poisoned plant plankton – the vital base of the ocean food web – which they blamed on a toxic brew of oil and dispersants.

Their work is preliminary, hasn’t been reviewed by other scientists, requires more tests to confirm it is BP’s oil they found, and is based on a 10-day research cruise that ended late Monday night. Scientists who were not involved said they were uncomfortable drawing conclusions based on such a brief look

But those early findings follow a report on Monday from Georgia researchers that said as much as 80 percent of the oil from the spill remains in the Gulf. Both groups’ findings have already been incorporated into lawsuits filed against BP.

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Gulf surface cleaner, but questions lurk far below

I am not a scientist. I’m not a marine biologist. I don’t play one on the ‘net and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night, so, I’m no smarter than the average reasonably well educated Texan.

Science was one of my favorite courses in school. So much so, that even if it was a long time ago, I still remember those classes and the things we learned.

One thing that has always been taught in science class is this, OIL is lighter than water, and as such, if oil is poured in to water, the oil floats on top OF the water.

Ya don’t believe me? Look it up. :P

So, if everything we have been taught about practical science is true, how then is this oil that’s been spilled in the Gulf of Mexico suddenly a heavier oil that sinks to the bottom of some deep undersea canyon off of the Florida coast?

How does supposedly 80% of the spilled oil remain IN the Gulf? Or, to be more precise, UNDER the surface of the Gulf? In these ‘oil plumes’ that we’ve all head so much about? Doesn’t that tend to blow the ‘oil is lighter than water’ theory all to hell and back? :?

Both groups paint a darker scenario than that of federal officials, who two weeks ago announced that most of the oil had dissolved, dispersed or been removed, leaving just a bit more than a quarter of the amount that spewed from the well that exploded in April.

I don’t place ANY degree of faith in anything that comes out of the federal government. I feel we are lied to on a regular basis. Even when we don’t need to be lied to, even when the truth would work just as well as a lie. But the Feds are going to lie anyway. They’ve got to keep in practice.

In this case though, by remembering the simple applications we learned in basic science, could the Feds not be correct this time? Could the oil not have dispersed, evaporated, been skimmed, burned off, whatever the case may be? Is it possible that the Feds are telling the truth and we are all just too skeptical to believe what they say?

Could it be that the simple lessons of applied science still hold true today? The lesson that taught us that oil floats on water?

At the White House on Aug. 4, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration chief Jane Lubchenco said: “At least 50 percent of the oil that was released is now completely gone from the system, and most of the remainder is degrading rapidly or is being removed from the beaches.�?

That stands to reason, at least based on what we were taught growing up, but…

That’s not what the scientists from South Florida and Georgia found.

“The oil is not gone, that’s for sure,�? University of South Florida’s David Hollander said Tuesday. “There is oil and we need to deal with it.�?

University of Georgia’s Samantha Joye said: “It’s a tremendous amount of oil that’s in the system. … It’s very difficult for me to imagine that 50 percent of it has been degraded.�?

Marine scientist Chuck Hopkinson, also with the University of Georgia, raised the obvious question: “Where has all the oil gone? It hasn’t gone anywhere. It still lurks in the deep.�?

Wait, what? “It still lurks in the deep�?? That’s what you’re going with? The oil didn’t float? It sunk? Into the murky depths of the sea?

“Clearly the oil down in the abyss, there’s nothing we can do about it,�? said Ed Overton of Louisiana State University. He said the environment at the surface or down to 100 feet or so is “rapidly going back to normal,�? with shrimpers starting their harvest. But oil below 1,000 feet degrades much more slowly, he said.

Into the abyss? O.K., that’s it, I give up. Now, oil sinks? I am devastated… :(

Everything we learned in science class was wrong. The oil sunk and my science teacher, Mrs. Powell, gave us all a bad bit of knowledge. I wonder what else she plied our young minds with that was evil or wrong by todays standards? :twisted:

Or, that’s right, I said OR, could this ‘sinking into the murky depths of the abyss’ stuff be a bunch of BS from the same people that think Al Gore is a genius and that global warming is real?

Joye has measured how fast natural gas, which also spewed from the BP well, can degrade in water, and it may take as much as 500 days for large pools to disappear at 3,000 feet below the sea. That natural gas starves oxygen from the water, she said.

Water is heavier than oil, oil is heavier than natural gas, it was, after all, a high pressure natural gas bubble that caused the blowout on Deepwater Horizon to begin with, or so we’ve been told.

So, shouldn’t the natural gas also rise to the surface and disperse into the atmosphere? Isn’t natural gas lighter than the atmosphere?

Somehow, I am seriously starting to believe that Henny Penny, Ducky Lucky and Chicken Little became marine scientists.

The sky IS falling…

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7 Responses to “Gulf surface cleaner, but questions lurk far below”

  1. comment number 1 by: James Shott

    Hey, Fred.

    It is a mystery, isn’t it?

    Like you, I’m not a scientist and don’t pretend to know a great deal about sciences, but I do research pretty heavily when I’m writing about a scientific subject.

    You may have read the two posts I’ve written that talk about the propensity of oil to evaporate.

    On May 18 the post contained this information: “Casting some needed light on the nature of oil spills, Merv Fingas, of McGill University and Environment Canada, wrote a piece published on the Minerals Management Service Web site, explaining that a lot of the spilled oil isn’t going to be a problem. ‘Evaporation is the most important change that most oil spills undergo. In a few days, light crudes can evaporate as much as 75 percent of the starting oil mass and medium crudes up to 40 percent.’Some of the rest of the oil is absorbed by seabed sediment and never reaches the surface or shorelines.”

    Maybe Mr. Fingas is all wet, or perhaps the scientists in South Florida are a ideologically driven as the global warming crowd.

  2. comment number 2 by: TexasFred

    OK, I am being taken to task (in email) by folks that say the dispersants ARE making the oil sink…

    If that’s the case, dispersants aren’t dispersants at all, they are SINKING AGENTS, and are doing more harm than good…

    Apparently, marine science and biology are not EXACT sciences and all that we know, or think we know, about the properties and reactions of oil to dispersants is wrong…

    Imagine that… The sky IS falling… :P

  3. comment number 3 by: Basti

    Never heard of sinking oil. All the vetted research I’ve ever seen says oil floats on water until evaporated or dissipated by wave action. Methinks this is just another attempt to keep the pot stirring until another disaster can be found to hype to the high heavens. Yeah I sound I sound like a pessimist, but life has taught me pessimism in anything is generally sound thinking.

  4. comment number 4 by: extex_cop

    Well Fred I think I might be able to explain all this.

    You see…every since Obama took office things have done just the opposite of what they say.

    We will get out of debt by spending money…wrong…we are deeper in debt.

    With this Stimulus Package passed it will create more jobs…wrong…unemployment is the highest.

    Obama offering his support so the Democrats get re-elected…wrong…they lose the race.

    I could bring up more examples, but I think you get my point.

    So you see…oil floats….wrong… under Obama’s rule…it sinks…just like the rest of the things he has a hand in. He is taking this nation down…not bringing it up.
    It makes you wonder if his father or grandfather worked on building the TITANIC….you know >>>that Un-sinkable ship.

  5. comment number 5 by: NativeSon

    Fred, If the oil is not there- there is NO CRISIS! If there is NO CRISIS-then it is harder for The Socialist in Chief has a harder time explaining why the government needs to take control over EVEN MORE of our lives! AND, (THIS IS A BIG ONE) NO CRISIS-Can’t “manufacture” reasons to raise the prices on everything from gulf coast seafood to children’s play-doh.

    Just my two cents (’cause the gov’t has taken all the rest of it and given it to people wh haven’t earned it)…

  6. comment number 6 by: NativeSon

    Also, IF oil sinks-HOW THE HECK DID IT EVER FIND ITS WAY TO THE SURFACE TO START WITH?!?! Riddle me that batman!!! :)

  7. comment number 7 by: Robert

    Good point nativeson.

    Fred don’t sell yourself short, the logic you exhibited in the post gives you a Doctorate degree over most of the asshats that are currently running the nation.

    I do question the dispersent theory though. That is possible. I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding the chemicals used in it. IF nobody can find the oil it must have “Dispersed”

    IF the oil sunk to the bottom,then there should be a VAST area covered in it and with all the science and technology we have, it seems it should be simple to find the pool.

    I do know the best way to cap the oil well and if they would have only asked me I’d have helped.

    All ya need to do is put a Giant wedding ring on the well, it would stop putting out immediately.