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Water-Related News

USF Researchers Confirm Subsurface Oil Clouds Are From BP Well

University of South Florida researchers have definitively connected clouds of degraded underwater oil found in the northern Gulf of Mexico to the Deepwater Horizon well through a chemical fingerprinting process. The confirmation by USF chemical oceanographer David Hollander is the first direct scientific link established between the subsurface oil clouds--commonly known as "plumes"--and the massive BP spill. Scientists had gathered ample circumstantial evidence to link the subsurface oil to the Deepwater Horizon well, but had lacked a definitive scientific link until now. Hollander's findings came after extensive rounds of testing involving water samples gathered during a May 22-28 cruise of the R/V Weatherbird II to the northern gulf, against samples of oil provided by BP in June.

"What we have learned completely changes the idea of what an oil spill is," Hollander said. "It has gone from a two-dimensional disaster to a three-dimensional catastrophe."