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Earth Science

US Confirms Underwater Oil Plume 353

oxide7 writes "An underwater three-dimensional map of the oil spill is closer to becoming a reality, now that the US has for the first time confirmed the discovery of a subsurface oil plume resulting from the ruptured BP well. The government agency in charge of ocean science has received the first of several expected reports from university investigators aboard research ships detailing specific locations where oil has been found below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico. The government, which denied reports of giant underwater oil plumes in mid-May, said researchers at the time had not confirmed the presence of conglomerated oil." The New York Times talked with scientists on a two-week mission in the Gulf and reported them "awed" at the size and density of the underwater plume.
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US Confirms Underwater Oil Plume

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  • Re:Disaster (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @06:02PM (#32502918)
    Richest country? bahahahahaha!
  • Re:Disaster (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @06:05PM (#32502946)

    FL is expected to lose almost 200k jobs, and $11bn from tourism income (worst case estimates for west coast). If it hits the east coast, it'll be a lot worse. Longer term is a the food chain being full of this shit, resulting in fish costs going through the roof for those not caught in the gulf.

    Good job Obama is using the might of the most powerful and richest country on the planet to stop the spewing oil. Oh, wait... He's done fuck all, par for the course and his promises to date.

    Meanwhile BP have paid a massive $75m on adverts.

    And 2 weeks ago, they had paid a massive $990m on clean up. Your point?

  • by MozeeToby ( 1163751 ) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @06:17PM (#32503054)

    Any solution that does not prevent future blow outs from happening in the first place is far too expensive to justify

    Huh? I was under the impression that many jurisdictions have rules stating that relief wells must be drilled in advance. Granted, you'd still have a blow out, and it would probably take a few days to get the necessary equipment and supplies in place to perform the bottom kill, but the leak would be pretty short lived compared to what we are seeing today. Also, Shell is, as I write this, building containment domes over many of their wells that would significantly reduce the problem as well. So it seems to me that there are economical ways to reduce the impact such an event would have. Oh, and that's even ignoring the fact that the spill was caused because BP was breaking the rules that are already in place and cutting corners to save money.

  • Re:Disaster (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @06:26PM (#32503118)

    the feds could have provided the 5 million feet of oil boom for the LA coastline back when the Gov requested it on May 2nd. []

  • Re:Disaster (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @07:17PM (#32503820)
    ahem... [dailykos.com]

    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.

    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.

    You divert to a catch basin. You are not building the fucking Great Wall of China. You are diverting oil so you can then drain it out.

  • by DesScorp ( 410532 ) <DesScorpNO@SPAMGmail.com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @07:26PM (#32503940) Homepage Journal

    BP = Bhopal for the Gulf.

    Uh, no, not even close. This isn't even close to being the worst oil spill in history [envirowonk.com], let alone the worst disaster in history. If the worst case scenario comes to pass... a spewing well until Christmas... then maybe this will make the top ten spill list. Second, this is oil, a natural substance, which even in its toughest form is a far cry from the chemical pesticides that Union Carbide leaked (and this leak is light sweet crude, not the much heavier grade of oil that was spilled at Valdez. It'll actually start evaporating). Last, Bhopal killed 17,000 people. This spill will kill no one, unless we've suddenly started counting birds and fish as people. The birds and fish will recover. The victims of Bhopal aren't coming back.

  • Re:Disaster (Score:4, Informative)

    by Idiomatick ( 976696 ) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @07:28PM (#32503962)
    GDP/capita is a pretty stupid way to measure power. Quatar has a GDP/capita of $84,000. Almost double the US. Luxembourg is around 80k. And do remember the US is just the aggregated economies of all the states right.
  • by Schnoodledorfer ( 1223854 ) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @08:14PM (#32504510)
    The part added by kdawson isn't quite right. The article is available on the New York Times website, but was not written by them. It obviously says: "By PAUL QUINLAN AND JOSH VOORHEES of Greenwire", "Copyright 2010 E&E Publishing. All Rights Reserved", "Greenwire is published by Environment & Energy Publishing." The actual New York Times article [nytimes.com] was written by different people and doesn't say anyone was "awed."
  • Re:Disaster (Score:5, Informative)

    by yariv ( 1107831 ) <yariv@yaari.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @08:40PM (#32504738)

    How about taking over BP because its assets exceed the damage and selling said assets off to fund national oil independence?

    Do you know how big BP is? Its assets are worth 236B$ (according to wikipedia, as of 2009). This is going to be expensive, possibly in the billions of dollars, but I doubt they will have to sell anything, they had net income of 16.5B$ in 2009. As for the rest, I would say that legal action should be taken only after investigation, which is underway, and according to the actual evidence. The liability caps were not issued by the president (any president, by the way) but by the congress, and republicans there are currently blocking the attempt to remove them (claiming they should be increased, but not completely removed).

  • Re:Volume (Score:4, Informative)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @08:46PM (#32504806)

    0.5 PPM is the MAXIMUM concentration found, not the minimum.

    The actual report shows average analysis results about 0.2 ppb.

    That would mean about 1000 barrels spread out over 1000's of cubic miles.

    Here is the link to the original NOAA report.

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2010/PDFs/noaa_weatherbird_analysis.pdf [noaa.gov]

    The press is totally misrepresenting the results of this report.


  • Re:Disaster (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @09:38PM (#32505244)

    Dropping a couple of hundred tonnes of rock on would be the cheap option - the problem is it won't work. It would cause the ground around the gusher collapse, and make the gusher a hundred times worse.

    Radar? Would scatter off the debris and the oil down there, assuming you could actually get one to work at that depth. The material they use for Raydomes is *not* that strong, and any alternative material that wouldn't be crushed would be impenetrable to the radar anyway. Oh, and there's power considerations.

    Lasers? Too narrow a field of view to be useful, scatter off any debris, and you've got the same problems as a Radar if you try to make them move around. Basically, no better than optics and a big floodlight.

    X-Rays? Exactly the same problems as optical, you're just changing the spectrum (and making some materials even harder to see).

    Sonar? Not high enough resolution - they'd just see a wall. Also, interference between the equipment on the different ROV's.

    GPS? Nope, because the only part you'd be able to get a fix on would be the repeater, not the ROV. That's just how GPS works, there's nothing that can be done about that. Well, unless you can find a receiver that can pick out the low power GPS satellite signals from the ROV's depth, but then you wouldn't need the repeaters in the first place.

    Our technology really is that lame - even in the archaic sense of the word. The ROV's down there already are pretty much the state of the art when it comes to anything that works at that depth. It's easy to look around at the surface and think 'Hey, why can't we use _that_?', but on the surface we don't have to deal with pressures anything like what they're dealing with down there. Technology is surprisingly fragile.

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya ( 195424 ) <taiki AT cox DOT net> on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @11:22PM (#32505988)

    Deepwater Horizon's estimated to have spilled over 100,000 gallons.

    Ixtoc spilled ~70,000+.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday June 08, 2010 @11:51PM (#32506162) Homepage Journal

    It's funny, because I think sacking the head of the MMS, while probably politically necessary, wasn't really a reasonable action.

    Birnbaum took office on July 15 2009. She was taking over the most notoriously corrupt and ineffective agency in the Federal Government. The permits for DWH had already been issued, and the relaxation of safeguards that might have prevented the disaster had taken place six years earlier. Any revision of the policy could not have been made in time to prevent the disaster.

    So there is no reasonable way that Birnbaum could have been expected to avert this disaster in the 9 months she was in office. It was entirely a political gesture. They'd already decided MMS was so broken it couldn't be fixed, and they were going to split it up and move its functions to other agencies. So Birbaum's "resignation" was purely symbolic.

  • Re:Disaster (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @01:55AM (#32506780)

    "Yeah, we should have elected McCain and "Drill, baby, drill" Palin."

    Well, what you got was drill baby drill Obama. If I recall, he opened up drilling just before this accident occurred. (And as you look for plots, this gives him the excuse to shut it down.)

    There is a small chance this wouldn't have occurred under the Republicans, but unlikely. I do think that the regs push deep water drilling into greater practice, which increased the odds of this leak occurring. I'm not, however, deluded to think this wouldn't have continued anyways if Republicans had been elected instead.

    "This whole thing is a plot."

    Typical Democrat--doesn't own up, probably blames Republicans, comes up with ridiculous conspiracy theory to support his own impotent views.

    Republicans had lax regulations. Democrats continued lax regulations 13 months leading up to spill, iow 5-6 inspections failed. Republicans were lucky and didn't get burned. You did.

    Democrats had opportunity to increase regulations in oil drilling, such as all the talk about drilling relief wells (used in Canada) and better inspections (they let the status quo of lax inspections continue, knowingly). They didn't fix things, and by default, in doing nothing they left the Republican agenda IN PLAY. That means they abided by them (talk about talking out of both sides of your mouth.) If you don't have the sense to fix something broken, and continue to use it, it's now YOUR fault esp. when you both sought and hold the positions of power.

    25% into a Presidency, you own the practices in play, even if you didn't put it there. After all, isn't Obama the organized, strategic one that was on the ball? I should again point out that I don't blame the spill on Obama, I'm going after the statement that you think this is a "plot."

    As to plot, the outrage against oil companies has a greater chance of increasing a renewable energy agenda than having no spill, so talking about plot and timing, it aids the Democrats agenda more than anything. Even if Reps win, drill baby drill is off the table.

    That is, of course, all from the Democrats who don't accept big contributions from big oil (they did, massively). Or who aren't using the whole green/organic thing as a feel good promise to gain votes, but who otherwise would never actually implement unless it benefits their party solely. It's not as if Obama had his entire Chicago home solar panel shingled out with some wind turbines on the roof ridges, the Windy City and call that Chicago is, now did he?

    "BP is trying to make the Democrats lose the next election."

    How? Before the leak, your numbers were shit and people were pissed (health care, economy). Now they have further evidence of how incompetent the Dems are, or rather how incapable our politicians are (regardless of party). People had a feeling that Dems (more so incumbents in general) weren't helping matters or can't, and this *simply is evidence of that.*

    After all, if Dems were better, wouldn't this handlng be "better" than the Reps? Instead, they (Dems and Reps) are rather impotent to stop this.

    The same Dems who were saying have massive windfall taxes against Big Oil, and, whoops, haven't gotten around to implementing that yet either. Hmm. I see a pattern here. What were you saying about plots?

  • Re:Disaster (Score:3, Informative)

    by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @04:51AM (#32507598)
    Yes but half the downtime. You always double the chance of failure with redundancy. What it's there for is quick response. You're on slashdot so let me make an analogy: What costs you more?
    1) A server's HDD dying, losing all data for the past day / week, and a day of downtime while you restore a backup? 2) A server's RAID1 array degrading and a day of slightly reduced performance as it is rebuilt fingers crossed that it won't fail and you won't have to rely on the above mentioned backup?
  • Re:Disaster (Score:2, Informative)

    by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @06:13AM (#32508020)

    1. Excepting oil, the two richest countries in terms of natural resources are the United States and Russia. The United States infrastructure is also vast and the US has incredible agricultural assets.

    2. The US military is the most powerful, most fighter aircraft, most airlift tonnage at once, most bombers, most aircraft carriers, most guided missile destroyers, most cruisers, most special forces units, most ballistic missile submarines, most attack submarines, largest amphibious warfare group

    Because of the unified nature of the US military (one giant military, each branch having its own role), the US military is much more efficient than say the combined national forces of the EU.

    As for "no war ever solved anything", thats a load. Couple quick ones - wars decided who would rule the central and western United States, war ended slavery in the United States, war ended the systematic execution of European Jews, war ended the Japanese enslavement of Korea, war unified Germany in the 19th century.

    As a measure of the GDP of the United States, the US military isn't that "expensive".

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/apr/01/information-is-beautiful-military-spending [guardian.co.uk]

  • Re:Disaster (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zerth ( 26112 ) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:40AM (#32508908)

    Any pension fund so invested in BP that it would be significantly harmed by it dissolving is run by an incompetent manager.

    BP's share price already halved in the last month.

Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.