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View Diary: Daily Kos Gulf Watchers ROV #372 - Still Leaking at the Mudline - BP's Gulf Catastrophe (315 comments)

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  •  Tragic! (11+ / 0-)

    "I've collected literally hundreds of sediment cores from the Gulf of Mexico, including around this area. And I've never seen anything like this," she said in an interview via satellite phone from the boat.

    Joye describes seeing layers of oily material — in some places more than 2 inches thick — covering the bottom of the seafloor.

    "It's very fluffy and porous. And there are little tar balls in there you can see that look like microscopic cauliflower heads," she says.

    It's very clearly a fresh layer. Right below it she finds much more typical seafloor mud. And in that layer, she finds recently dead shrimp, worms and other invertebrates.

    •  A little more from that article - (8+ / 0-)

      How did the oily sediment get there? Joye says it's possible that chemical dispersants might have sunk some oil, but it's also likely that natural systems are playing an important role. "The organisms that break down oil excrete mucus — copious amounts of mucus," Joye says. "So it's kind of like a slime highway from the surface to the bottom. Because eventually the slime gets heavy and it sinks." That sticky material can pick up oil particles as it sinks. Joye can't yet say with certainty that the oily layer is from BP's blown-out well.

      Biofilms can play havoc in many different ways so it doesn't surprise me to see that they may be involved here too.

      I suppose there is some tempering of this ugly picture when she says it stretches for dozens of miles, which at least suggests this is in the area of the well, and not all along the gulf shoreline. We tend to forget that the immense pressure and high gas content did a lot of dispersing, quite apart from the chemical dispersant, so seeing higher levels of this crud near the well makes sense.

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