Researchers claim bacteria gobbled it all up - and fast
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