Gulf Oil Spill Fallout Baffles Scientists

Scientists have little experience with oil from below
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2010 6:00 PM CDT
Gulf Oil Spill Fallout Baffles Scientists
Streaks of oil sheens are seen north of the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico off the Alabama coast as viewed from a Coast Guard HC-144A plane Thursday, June 10, 2010.   (AP Photo/Mobile Press-Register, John David Mercer)

(Newser) – The Gulf oil spill will affect all living things in the area—but determining what those consequences will be is stumping the best minds in environmental science. There's never been an oil spill of the magnitude of the Deepwater Horizon accident on the ocean floor, and data is scarce on the effect the submerged slick will have. "This is a three-dimensional spill," one oceanographer tells the Wall Street Journal. "The physics, the chemistry and the biology action are very different when you have oil released from below."

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Organisms in the Gulf are used to ambient levels of oil, but a drastic increase, along with the use of dispersant chemicals, could have unpredictable effects on the region's life science. "We've thrown a monkey wrench into that ecosystem," one marine biologist says. "There are uncertainties about the long- and short-term impacts."
(Read more Gulf oil spill stories.)

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