Journalism in the Public Interest

Scientists Discover Thick Layer of Oil Stretching for Miles on Gulf Sea Floor


In this May 24, 2010 NASA radiometer satellite photo, oil (appearing as silver) from the Deepwater Horizon spill was spotted near the mouth of the Mississippi River delta.

Scientists conducting research in the Gulf have found a thick layer of oily sediment on the ocean floor stretching for miles.

"We have to [chemically] fingerprint it and link it to the Deepwater Horizon," Samantha Joye, a marine scientist at the University of Georgia, told NPR. "But the sheer coverage here is leading us all to come to the conclusion that it has to be sedimented oil from the oil spill, because it's all over the place."

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about oil being found on the sea floor. Last month, scientists from the University of South Florida had used UV lighting to detect what they believed to be oil spread across the sediment on the bottom of the Gulf.

At the time, scientist David Hollander had described the oil’s distribution as  not “a blanket of oil,” but rather a “constellation of stars."  

The new findings, according to NPR, “strongly suggest” that at least in some places in the Gulf, the oil on the bottom is less like a drizzle and more like a blizzard: thin in some places, but more than two inches thick in others.

Joye suggested that the application of dispersants may have something to do with the oily sediment.

"Nobody should be surprised," Joye, the marine scientist, told ABC News. "When you apply large scale dispersants, it goes to the bottom -- it sediments out. It gets sticky."

She also said that based on the samples her team tested, the oil is not from natural seepage. The oily layer was found as far as 70 miles away from BP’s ruptured well, and Joye said the team has yet to collect samples close to the wellhead. 

While the government initially published a rosy report estimating that most of the oil from the Gulf was gone, the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has also acknowledged the effects of the spill could linger for decades. 

Who woulda thunk it. I thought our government told us everything was clear? I also happen to know that local fishermen in Florida have been sending off fish to private labs and coming up with lots of contaminated fish. Some fish dealer still will not sell fish from the Gulf. but yet government fish tests show all clear. I wonder who is lying. Probably the same people who lie about everything else, because they have some ulterior motive.

Noooooooooooooooooooooo…Really???? UNBELIEVABLE!

Alexis Stough

Sep. 14, 2010, 9:19 a.m.

You no to think people would be smart enough to know that drilling for oil in the ocean isnt the smartest idea on earth right now i mean come on what ideat would do something like that it6 makes me soooooooo angry…. All thats going on with global warming their just gonna go out their and think it would be safe to drill for oil i think NOT!  UGH stupid people make my brain hurt. come on people get it together use some common sence i no you have it and if you dont maybe you should go back to school and learn some.

Wow. Just.. Wow. After we’ve been told everything has been cleaned up and fixed? I don’t understand our government at times. They should thouroughly test all the elements relating to the Gulf spill. Not just stay on the surface and get lazy with their cleaning detail. Americans shouldn’t have to suffer loss like this even after they’ve been told it’s alright.

Of course there is oil at the bottom of the deep blue. It was bound to go somewhere! How could this surprise so many? It’s not like the million barrels of leakage could have simply disappeared into thin air! Too heavy to be evaporated, and too massive to dissolve into the water, the oil must have gone somewhere! And now it has been found, but there is nothing that has been done since that grim discovery. The questions are now when and how…

You left out the part that describes the stuff they found as “fluffy” and “porous”  they didn’t test it before the story ran so we don’t know what it is for sure or what it contains such as dispersant or microbes. Is 2 inches “fluffy” and “porous” “thick” ?

The attention span of the American public is very short indeed.  They want everything to be boxed up and put away so they don’t have to see it…look at the multi-million dollar adds that are run on TV and in print media in all their bright sunshiny sparkling clean glory…that’s what the public wants to believe.  What elephant under the rug…where?  I am ashamed that the federal authorities (governmental and agencies) along with local/regional entities do their best to present a patently false assessment of the extent of the massive oil spill…their ongoing alliance(s) with megalomanical oil and energy companies is readily apparent and absolutely abhorrent.  And just where are the front page headlines about this recent “discovery?”

Oh, so that’s where it went.  I thought BP just waved their Oil-B-Gone Wand (TM) and all that oil gushing out of the well just vanished!

<rolls eyes>

Both parties are bought and paid for.  I’m honestly not surprised, though I am disappointed.

Blaming the government is fine - they deserve blame.  But my anger is first directed at the wonderful corporation which has done what any good company would do… spew lies to cover it’s as* and try to “sell” the people and the government that it is merely trying to do “the right thing.”  I feel like throwing up when I hear neocons waxing poetic about the goodness of poor, poor wholesome corporate america… which just wants to do the right thing… but government always gets in the way… if only government would let companies transact business without restrictions….  YADA YADA YADA… 

Right-wingers are ignorant, intolerant, selfish and angry.

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Gulf Oil Spill

The BP oil disaster in the Gulf has had untold health, economic and environmental effects.

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