Deep-sea oil plume goes missing | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


News

Deep-sea oil plume goes missing

Controversy arises over whether bacteria have completely gobbled it up

By
2:07pm, August 24, 2010

In May, researchers began reporting that the massive jets of crude emanating from BP’s damaged Deepwater Horizon well were creating deep, diffuse plumes of oil in the Gulf of Mexico. Since then, chemical oceanographers have been probing the plumes for indirect clues about how quickly native bacteria might be gobbling up the oil.

Microbial ecologist Terry Hazen of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California now thinks he has a surprising answer: very quickly.

He’s part of a broad team of scientists from two Department of Energy national labs and two universities that has been collecting plume samples continually for months. In a paper posted online August 24 in Science, the team reports data from late May to early June showing that those deep-sea plumes enticed a hitherto unknown cold-water–adapted bacterium to rapidly chow down on the oil.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News