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Scientists: Indications of oil on gulf floor

A scientific expedition has found indications that there is oil in the sediments at the bottom of a deep underwater canyon, raising new questions about the lingering impact of BP's spill on the Gulf of Mexico.

Researchers at the University of South Florida reported Tuesday that they had found "what appears to be oil" in the sediments of the DeSoto Canyon.

The canyon is a cut through the raised continental shelf off Florida's Gulf Coast, between 2,600 and 3,200 feet deep.
In a news release, the university said that further tests were needed to determine if what the crew's instruments found was, in fact, oil -- and if that oil came from BP's runaway Macondo well. The tests they have used so far, which involve UV light, can return similar results from oil, other minerals, and even living plankton.

If the researchers did find oil, it would contradict the federal government's assertion that much of the oil in the gulf has either vanished or begun to degrade.

If the oil has settled to the gulf floor in this area, the university said, that could pose problems to tiny creatures that live in the area. It said that preliminary tests using material taken from the DeSoto Canyon site showed that it was toxic to the microscopic marine creatures at the base of the gulf food chain.


David A. Fahrenthold

 |  August 17, 2010; 5:41 PM ET Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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How does petroleum, which has lower density than sea water sink? How do microorganisms at the bottom of the sea form the base of the food chain when they are so remote from sunshine?

Thank you.

Posted by: edbyronadams | August 18, 2010 10:16 AM
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