Title: ‘Dirty blizzard’ in Gulf may account for missing Deepwater Horizon oil
Source: Florida State University
Author: Jill Elish
Date: March 15, 2013
h/t Anonymous tip
Oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill acted as a catalyst for plankton and other surface materials to clump together and fall to the sea floor in a massive sedimentation event that researchers are calling a “dirty blizzard.” [...]
The consortium, which includes researchers from FSU, Eckerd College, the University of South Florida and Georgia Institute of Technology, confirmed the never before observed dirty blizzard hypothesis by using thorium, lead and radiocarbon isotopes in addition to DNA analyses of sediments. [...]
The oily sediments deposited on the sea floor could cause significant damage to ecosystems and may affect commercial fisheries in the future, [Jeff Chanton, Professor of Oceanography at Florida State University] said.
The dirty blizzard hypothesis explains why layers of water that would normally be cloudy with suspended plankton instead appeared transparent during the spill, except for strings of particles falling to the bottom.
“The oil just sucked everything out of the surface,” Chanton said.
Excerpt from Chanton’s audio interview: “There was this massive sedimentation event… in the deep Gulf… There was this red layer that was deposited over the sediments but nobody knew what it was. There was a lot of speculation it might be oil.”
Published: March 19th, 2013 at 10:44 pm ET