TNF

Bacterial influence on the Gulf oil spill

In Read on February 2, 2011 at 7:08 am

Discover’s “Not Exactly Rocket Science” blog highlights a paper in which a researcher claims that the huge amounts of methane released into the Gulf of Mexico via last year’s oil spill have already disappeared:

With the well unsealed, substantial amounts of the gas were released into the gulf. This plume of dissolved methane should have lurked in the water for years, hanging around like a massive planetary fart. But by August, it had disappeared. On three separate trips through the gulf, John Kessler from Texas A&M University couldn’t find any traces of the gas above background levels. He thinks he knows why – the methane was eaten by bacteria.

Keep in mind we’re not talking about the crude oil we saw streaming from the busted pipe. But, wow, on the methane front, this is great news.

While this in no way diminishes the ongoing cleanup work that must be done, what we have here is an instance in the natural world of unexpected resiliency (first thing listed on TNF’s topic list!) in the face of what many feared was an unrecoverable situation.

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