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2010 Science News of the Year: Environment

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1:53pm, December 17, 2010


Credit: NASA Earth Observatory

Gulf drilling disaster
The biggest oil spill in U.S. history began April 20, when an explosion and fire on the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling platform sent oil spewing into the Gulf of Mexico at rates at times exceeding 65,000 barrels a day (SN Online: 9/23/10). By the time the well was capped 12 weeks later, an estimated 5.2 million barrels of oil had been released, all but 800,000 of which ended up in the water. Much of the oil drifted in diffuse subsea plumes (SN: 7/3/10, p. 5) that may have contained twice as much natural gas as oil (SN: 10/9/10, p. 10). Although native bacteria began degrading the oil (SN: 9/11/10, p. 5

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