Third Giant Underwater Oil Plume Discovered → Washingtons Blog
Third Giant Underwater Oil Plume Discovered - Washingtons Blog

Friday, May 28, 2010

Third Giant Underwater Oil Plume Discovered

The New York Times reported on May 15th:

Scientists are finding enormous oil plumes in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, including one as large as 10 miles long, 3 miles wide and 300 feet thick in spots. The discovery is fresh evidence that the leak from the broken undersea well could be substantially worse than estimates that the government and BP have given.

“There’s a shocking amount of oil in the deep water, relative to what you see in the surface water,” said Samantha Joye, a researcher at the University of Georgia who is involved in one of the first scientific missions to gather details about what is happening in the gulf. “There’s a tremendous amount of oil in multiple layers, three or four or five layers deep in the water column.”

The plumes are depleting the oxygen dissolved in the gulf, worrying scientists, who fear that the oxygen level could eventually fall so low as to kill off much of the sea life near the plumes.

AP reported on May 27th that scientists had found a second giant plume deep under the water. The plume is 22 miles long and 6 miles wide.

Today, the Washington Post is reporting that a third giant underwater plume has been discovered:
A Louisiana scientist said his crew had located another vast plume of oily globs, miles in the opposite direction.

James H. Cowan Jr., a professor at Louisiana State University, said his crew on Wednesday found a plume of oil in a section of the gulf 75 miles west of the source of the leak.

Cowan said that his crew sent a remotely controlled submarine into the water, and found it full of oily globules, from the size of a thumbnail to the size of a golf ball.... Cowan said the oil at this site was so thick that it covered the lights on the submarine.

"It almost looks like big wet snowflakes, but they're brown and black and oily," Cowan said. The submarine returned to the surface entirely black, he said.

Cowan said that the submarine traveled about 400 feet down, close to the sea floor, and found oil all the way down. Trying to find the edges of the plume, he said the submarine traveled miles from side to side.

"We really never found either end of it," he said. He said he did not know how wide the plume actually was, or how far it stretched away to the west.

As I have previously pointed out, the use of dispersants by BP may be making matters worse. The Washington post article notes:

Cowan's finding underscores concerns about oil moving under the surface, perhaps because of dispersant chemicals that have broken it up into smaller globules. BP officials have played down the possibility of undersea oil plumes.

This discovery seems to confirm the fears of some scientists that -- because of the depth of the leak and the heavy use of chemical "dispersants" -- this spill was behaving differently than others. Instead of floating on top of the water, it may be moving beneath it.

That would be troubling because it could mean the oil would slip past coastal defenses such as "containment booms" designed to stop it on the surface. Already, scientists and officials in Louisiana have reported finding thick oil washing ashore despite the presence of floating booms.

It would also be a problem for hidden ecosystems deep under the gulf. There, scientists say, the oil could be absorbed by tiny animals and enter a food chain that builds to large, beloved sport-fish like red snapper. It might also glom on to deep-water coral formations, and cover the small animals that make up each piece of coral.

"You're almost like a deer in the headlights when you're watching this. You don't know what to say," Cowan said. He said the oil's threat to undersea ecosystems "is really starting to scare us."

Update: ABC news has filmed vast underwater plumes of oil. See this and this.


  1. The boom, as it has been laid, is a joke:
    Boom is not meant to contain or catch oil. Boom is meant to divert oil. Boom must always be at an angle to the prevailing wind-wave action or surface current. Boom, at this angle, must always be layered in a fucking overlapped sort-of way with another string of boom. Boom must always divert oil to a catch basin or other container, from where it can be REMOVED FROM THE FUCKING AREA. Looks kinda involved, doesn't it? It is. But if fucking proper fucking booming is done properly, you can remove most, by far most of the oil from a shoreline and you can do it day after day, week after week, month after month. You can prevent most, by far most of the shoreline from ever being touched by more than a few transient molecules of oil. Done fucking properly, a week after the oil stops coming ashore, no one, man nor beast, can ever tell there has been oil anywhere near that shoreline.

    In practice, there's a reason the best booming schools last weeks. Different types of shoreline, different shapes, require different configurations. Your numerous anchor points (for this spill those would be 1-yard cement blocks with tie-off buoys) need to be chosen so the boom-tenders (you) can adjust the ropes, slanting the booms this way and that to account for changes in wind and current.
    Booms are tended 24/7, by the way. BUT... just having learned what you've learned here today, DKos Boomer, you know enough of the CONCEPT to figure it out. You get it. You could go out there and watch how the ping-pong balls (your test-oil) glide along the boom. You could see where they miss the catch basins and you could adjust and re-configure and you could perform fucking proper fucking booming. By the third day of actual booming, no one on this planet would be better than you. So if you understand it, and all these production employees understand it (we're talking tens of thousands of people here), then why is most or all of the booming along the Gulf... being done wrong?

  2. I don't know why this comes as a surprise. Within the first week of the Deepwater Horizon blow out BP and main stream media where stating this fact. Whats next? Workers on the oil rig heard 3 explosion several hours before the rig burst in to flames! that was also main line news 3 weeks ago.

    Wake up people

  3. Great coverage of the "spill," GW.

    Re the 10mi X 3mi X 300ft plume: there is NO WAY that leaking at a rate of even 20k barrels per day could produce a plume that big in just 25 days (5/15 minus 4/20). You'd need a leak at least 2-3 orders of magnitude larger--or a 2nd leak that started A LOT earlier than the one being covered now. That, or the plume dimensions are way off.

  4. it says in the Bible that one third of the ocean and every thing in it will be destroyed in the last days.

  5. Out of sight out of mind (out of the court lawsuit)

  6. all the while folks who are trying to promote AmeriHaz as a viable solution to 'reducing' the damage are being ignored.

    This product could even be sprayed underwater to 'capture' the oil and make it buoyant. It would then rise to the surface where it could be collected.

  7. I wonder how these nazi globalist are expecting to live once the entire planet is a toxic waste dump. They are most certainly going to get what they want - population reduction - but they are not going to be exempt from it. This is the beginning of the end for any animal bigger than a bacteria. All the underground bases and supplies and technology wont save the worshippers of evil, the murderers of nature, the haters of god and love. May your black souls languish in torture for all eternity.

  8. This had to have been done purposely. The president acted like it was nothing for a month. If it weren't for James Carville, the president wouldn't have gone to the site nor would he have said how "upset" he was. His voice sounded as if he weren't "upset" at all, not one little bit.

  9. Please prove it with photos - the written word is harder to believe these days.... Show us the black sub...

  10. This is THE TIPPING POINT for our planet. I wondered what it would be and when -- now we all know. This is the beginning of the end. When all the fish and plants are dead in the western gulf and eastern Mexico, will the Florida area be next? We are asking the fools that did this to fix it! We let them drill and drill, baby! Capping this one well is not going to "fix" anything! The entire gas and oil dome in the gulf is cracking, and we will see the planet begin to die as more and more oil spreads. Welcome to the 21st century!

  11. It seems a natural agent like volcanic ash would be better, maybe even more effective than chemical dispersant. Anybody test in the lab? Try some on the plumes, before the hurricanes?

    This close-to-home and in our face oil pollution is comparable to the aggregate annual oil spills, leaks, bilge dumps, etc. going into nature around the world. It ain't nice and we don't like it when it gets personal.

    Some suggest it is time to revisit the railway mode as a key component in the Oil Interregnum Solution Set. Department of Defense warns of oil supply shortage mid decade, Motor Fuel Rationing by Federal Executive Order. Railway information can be seen in other "tahoevalleylines" postings in theoildrum and elsewhere. See also "aspoarticle1037" in James Howard Kunstler's blog.

    A timely book by Christopher C. Swan "ELECTRIC WATER" (New Society Press, 2007) is a compendium of renewable generated power source for potable water and local mobility methodologies. See also "Sunttrain Transportation Corporation" on the web.


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