September 13th, 2010
Still wondering where all the oil from the BP spill ended up? To the chagrin of those who would prefer to think it magically disappeared, scientists on a research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico have uncovered a more unsettling answer in the form of a layer of oily sediment on the seafloor, stretching for dozens of miles in all directions from the blowout site.
“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,” said Samantha Joye, a professor in the Department of Marine Sciences at the University of Georgia.
Joye, aboard the Research Vessel Oceanus, is part of a team that left port on Aug. 21 to ascertain what happened to the more than four million barrels of oil that gushed from BP’s uncapped well. She describes seeing layers of oily material, sometimes up to more than two inches thick, covering the bottom of the seafloor. Right below it she finds much more typical seafloor mud in a layer that also includes recently dead shrimp, worms and other invertebrates.