Gases dominate Gulf’s subsea plumes

Gases dominate Gulf’s subsea plumes

Microbes are degrading easily-digested hydrocarbons first, a study finds

By Janet Raloff, 11:38 AM September 16, 2010

The plumes of oil that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico’s depths this spring and summer in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon blowout were actually only about one-third oil, scientists estimate, with the remainder consisting of natural gas.

Research reported online September 16 in Science found that in June, marine microbes were primarily feeding on propane and ethane in the oil plumes.

“We estimate that there’s about two times as much gas sitting in those subsurface plumes as there is oil...

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