Methane from BP spill goes missing | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

REAL SCIENCE. REAL NEWS.

Help us keep you informed.

Support Science News.


News

Methane from BP spill goes missing

Researchers claim bacteria gobbled it all up - and fast

By
2:29pm, January 6, 2011

Methane, the predominant hydrocarbon produced by the BP blowout last year, has all but vanished from Gulf of Mexico waters, a new study reports — presumably eaten up by marine bacteria. That hadn’t been expected to happen for years.

Two-thirds of the hydrocarbons released by the BP accident were forms of natural gas: largely methane, ethane and propane. While Gulf microbes quickly began devouring the larger gas molecules, they initially left tiny methane — which accounted for an estimated 87.5 percent of the gas initially emitted — largely untouched.

Some of the authors of the new paper had reported in the Oct. 8 Science finding almost no microbial breakdown of BP methane in June, about a month and a half into the 83-day gusher.

Rates of biodegradation in subsea plumes, where this gas had been accumulating, “indicated methane

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now. Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content