Gulf floor fouled by bacterial oil feast

Patchy seafloor deposits are mix of microbial waste, oil and other remnants of clean-up effort

By Janet Raloff, 12:53 PM February 20, 2011

WASHINGTON — Huge quantities of oil that gushed from BP’s well blowout last spring and summer now taint the Gulf of Mexico’s seafloor, newly released video and chemical sampling data show. Within 40 miles of the damaged wellhead, the oil deposits appear extensive but patchy, and range from little spots of oil on the seafloor to localized blankets of goopy hydrocarbons several inches thick.

New data suggest much of this oil may have rained down from the sea surface, fostered by what scientist S...

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