Much of Spilled Oil Already Gone

Around 35% probably evaporated, model suggests
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2010 1:14 PM CDT
Vessels involved in the containment effort are seen at the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Louisiana Tuesday, May 11, 2010.   (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, pool)

(Newser) – The Deepwater Horizon disaster has led to the release of million of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, but figuring out where it all is has proven kind of hard. Roughly 4.6 million gallons seem to have pooled into a shape-shifting blob off the coast of Louisiana, and some has washed up as far away as Alabama. But even more is unaccounted for, and it's unclear where it'll ultimately wind up.

So the AP played around with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's modeling software and discovered that a lot of the oil probably isn't in the water anymore. Given a spill of that size, oil type, and location, the model predicts that 35% would evaporate, and its benzene—a toxic, flammable chemical—would have vaporized. But the model isn't precise, and it's anyone's guess where the remaining oil goes; some predict it washes ashore, others that it will come to rest on the seabed.

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