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News Where's the oil?

  1. Jul 28, 2010 #1

    Evo

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    Where's the oil?

    Reminds me of the huge Ixtaca oil spill that also disappeared.

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ynews_excl/ynews_excl_sc3270 [Broken]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2010 #2
    This makes me feel good :)
     
  4. Jul 28, 2010 #3
    microbes will do a better job then the cleanup crew.
    friend from college did his thesis on oil eating microbes, he was doing soil samples at oil contaminated land and found the same activity going on a few meters down.
     
  5. Jul 28, 2010 #4

    Pengwuino

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    Good job nature.
     
  6. Jul 28, 2010 #5

    Ygggdrasil

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    Out of sight does not necessarily mean out of mind. The use of dispersants to break the oil up into smaller pieces and the fact that this spill has been associated with large underwater oil plumes means that simply looking at the amount of oil on the surface of the water will not give a good picture of how much oil is left. However, the Yahoo piece is right that microbes are doing a lot of the cleanup work. Clearly the gulf's microbial ecosystem has a massive capacity to consume hydrocarbons. For example, the gulf has a naturally leaky seafloor that leaks around 1,500 to 4,000 bbl per day (the gulf spill, however, was estimated at 35,000 to 60,000 bbl per day). However, not all types of oil can be digested by the bacteria:
    Source: http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/88/i31/8831news1.html [Broken]

    Furthermore, the Yahoo estimates seem optimistic given the figures quoted in the C&EN piece:
    Finally, on oil washing up onshore, the piece notes that:
    There is certainly cause to celebrate that oil is no longer spilling into the gulf and that the gulf's microbes seem to be doing a good job cleaning up the spill, but the effect of the spill on the gulf ecosystem are not likely going to be over anytime soon.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Jul 28, 2010 #6

    Evo

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    From your C&EN piece
    Your source spoke of the Exxon Valdez
    But the gulf oil spill is nothing like that spill.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  8. Jul 28, 2010 #7

    Ivan Seeking

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    The oil is below the surface. There is no mystery.

    Anyone with an elementary knowledge of this knows about the bacteria. In fact, one of the big concerns is that the oil-eating bacteria will cause dead zones due to depleted oxygen.

    The only reason the oil didn't hit land in greater quantities was that the winds were favorable. They kept shifting, which helped to keep the oil out at sea. But we know nothing about how ecosystems have been or will be affected.

    In short, there is no news here. It may take years or more before we fully understand the impact of this event. But there is no doubt that nature has conspired in our favor. Thanks to the efforts of the Obama admin - Steven Chu in particular - and the lack of hurricanes so far [only a couple of near misses] the damage from this might still be minimized. Note that the leak was contained almost six weeks sooner than estimated! Great job Chu!!! Congratulations to Obama, all of his advisors, Thad Allen, and all who helped to contain this disaster.

    With any luck, no significant amount of oil went deep into the critical breeding grounds of La. wetlands, but we don't know that yet.
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2010
  9. Jul 28, 2010 #8

    RonL

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    Was the oil in the Exxon Valdez in some stage of refinment or was it straight from a well head ?
     
  10. Jul 28, 2010 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    The oil in the Valdez disaster was heavy, sour crude.

    Over twenty years later, it can still be found just under the rocks, on local beaches. Once you get below the surface, there isn't enough oxygen for the bacteria to feast, so the oil remains.

    The herring population never did return.
     
  11. Jul 28, 2010 #10

    Ygggdrasil

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    Regarding the data quoted from Joel Kostka's lab, I don't think that test was meant to be representative of the time it would take the microbes to clear the levels of oil in the gulf, but merely as an example to compare the rates of action of the two type of bacteria.

    Regarding the buried oil in sand, the C&EN piece writes:
    Which are valid reasons to worry that the digestion of these oil deposits will not occur quickly even with the increased temperatures at the gulf.
     
  12. Jul 29, 2010 #11

    mheslep

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    Yes I believe I read that it was expected that the elevated temperatures in the Gulf (vs Valdez) would cause the DeepWater oil to breakdown 5-10X faster?
     
  13. Jul 29, 2010 #12

    RonL

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    Something of interest on ABC evening news yesterday, the birds that were cleaned were about 2,800 and nearly 1/2 died, the birds from the Valdez were near 250,000. I remember the concerne about birds along the coast, I think the numbers being low would be related to how warm water and air would cause vapors to rise and smells would cause most to move away and stay more inland.

    Only time will tell but it seems there have been a lot of unexpected things here.
     
  14. Jul 29, 2010 #13

    russ_watters

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    Perhaps my sarcasm detector is malfunctioning, but I'm not detecting any here. So are you really seriously claiming that those people are directly responsible for the flow of oil being stopped 6 weeks sooner than once estimated? Based on what?! :eek:
     
  15. Jul 29, 2010 #14

    Evo

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    I thought Ivan was concerned about the flow taking months longer than expected to get stopped? Before his last post, of course. And thanks should go to nature for the cleanup. The earth has an amazing way of healing itself.
     
  16. Jul 29, 2010 #15

    Gokul43201

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    :biggrin: Been waiting for this post! :biggrin:
     
  17. Jul 29, 2010 #16

    russ_watters

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    I love how it has to be me - the post was from yesterday and a bunch of people let it go!
     
  18. Jul 29, 2010 #17
    i feel like i should do my part here, and maybe contribute a little extra biological waste products this weekend to go drifting down the Cahaba, and eventually into the Gulf.
     
  19. Aug 1, 2010 #18
    The oil at the surface disappears, but far below the surface the oil will not disappear so quickly. Oil out of sight does not mean it does no harm.
     
  20. Aug 1, 2010 #19
    I've never been convinced that something can 'disappear'.
     
  21. Aug 1, 2010 #20

    russ_watters

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    As the law of conservation of mass implies, nothing really "disappears" but it can be eaten, evaporated, burned or diluted (or, of course, skimmed).
     
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