Scientists at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution said they detected a plume of hydrocarbons in June that was at least 22 miles long and more than 3,000 feet below the surface of the Gulf of Mexico, a residue of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
According to the institution, the 1.2-mile-wide, 650-foot-high plume of trapped hydrocarbons provides at least a partial answer to recent questions asking where all the oil has gone as surface slicks shrink and disappear.
Whether the plume’s existence poses a significant threat to the Gulf is not yet clear, the researchers say. “We don’t know how toxic it is,” Reddy said in a statement, “and we don’t know how it formed, or why. But knowing the size, shape, depth, and heading of this plume will be vital for answering many of these questions.”