Navigation Links
UCSB, Texas A&M scientists find methane gas concentrations have returned to near-normal levels
Date:1/6/2011

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) Calling the results "extremely surprising," researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara and Texas A&M University report that methane gas concentrations in the Gulf of Mexico have returned to near normal levels only months after a massive release occurred following the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion.

Findings from the research study, led by oceanographers John Kessler of Texas A&M and David Valentine of UCSB, were published today in Science Xpress, in advance of their publication in the journal Science. The findings show that Mother Nature quickly saw to the removal of more than 200,000 metric tons of dissolved methane through the action of bacteria blooms that completely consumed the immense gas plumes the team had identified in mid-June. At that time, the team reported finding methane gas in amounts 100,000 times above normal levels. But, about 120 days after the initial spill, they could find only normal concentrations of methane and clear evidence of complete methane respiration.

"What we observed in June was a horizon of deep water laden with methane and other hydrocarbon gases," Valentine said. "When we returned in September and October and tracked these waters, we found the gases were gone. In their place were residual methane-eating bacteria, and a 1 million ton deficit in dissolved oxygen that we attribute to respiration of methane by these bacteria."

Kessler added: "Based on our measurements from earlier in the summer and previous other measurements of methane respiration rates around the world, it appeared that (Deepwater Horizon) methane would be present in the Gulf for years to come. Instead, the methane respiration rates increased to levels higher than have ever been recorded, ultimately consuming it and prohibiting its release to the atmosphere."

While the scientists' research documents the changing conditions of the Gulf waters, it also sheds some light on how the planet functions naturally.

"This tragedy enabled an impossible experiment," Valentine said, "one that allowed us to track the fate of a massive methane release in the deep ocean, as has occurred naturally throughout Earth's history."

Kessler noted: "We were glad to have the opportunity to lend our expertise to study this oil spill. But also we tried to make a little good come from this disaster and use it to learn something about how the planet functions naturally. The seafloor stores large quantities of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, which has been suspected to be released naturally, modulating global climate. What the Deepwater Horizon incident has taught us is that releases of methane with similar characteristics will not have the capacity to influence climate."

The Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling platform exploded on April 20, 2010, about 40 miles off the Louisiana coast. The blast killed 11 workers and injured 17 others. Oil was gushing from the site at the rate of 62,000 barrels per day, eventually spilling an estimated 170 million gallons of oil into the Gulf. The leak was capped on July 15, and the well was permanently sealed on Sept. 19.

The research team collected thousands of water samples at 207 locations covering an area of about 36,000 square miles. The researchers based their conclusions on measurements of dissolved methane concentrations, dissolved oxygen concentrations, methane oxidation rates, and microbial community structure.


'/>"/>

Contact: George Foulsham
george.foulsham@ia.ucsb.edu
805-893-3071
University of California - Santa Barbara
Source:Eurekalert  

Related biology news :

1. Earth scientists keep an eye on Texas
2. 7 Texas mammals listed as threatened on Global Mammal Assessment
3. Texas A&M anthropologist discovers long-lost primate in Indonesia
4. Texas invests record $3.5 million in startup cofounded by UTs Mauro Ferrari
5. Texas College Police Unit Deploys BIO-key(R) Mobile Data System
6. UT Southwestern scientist honored among best in Texas research
7. Texas Medical Center researchers win collaborative grants
8. Famous fossil Lucy scanned at the University of Texas at Austin
9. Texas researchers provide emissions data for livestock industry
10. Texas Obesity Research Center at UH assembles researchers to discuss obesity
11. Texas-sized tract of single-celled clones
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
Related Image:
UCSB, Texas A&M scientists find methane gas concentrations have returned to near-normal levels
(Date:4/28/2016)... and BANGALORE, India , April ... EdgeVerve Systems, a product subsidiary of Infosys (NYSE: ... today announced a global partnership that will provide ... to use mobile banking and payment services.      ... a key innovation area for financial services, but it also ...
(Date:4/26/2016)... 2016 Research and Markets has ... Market 2016-2020"  report to their offering.  , ,     ... The analysts forecast the global multimodal biometrics market ... the period 2016-2020.  Multimodal biometrics is ... as the healthcare, BFSI, transportation, automotive, and government ...
(Date:4/15/2016)... 2016 Research and Markets has ... Market 2016-2020,"  report to their offering.  , ... ,The global gait biometrics market is expected to ... period 2016-2020. Gait analysis generates multiple ... used to compute factors that are not or ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:5/24/2016)... --  MedyMatch Technology Ltd ., the data analytics healthcare company ... tools in the emergency room, announced today that it has ... Industries (IATI) BioMed Conference. The Conference is ... Life Sciences and Technology Week, and is being held May ... Tel Aviv, Israel . Gene Saragnese , ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... ... May 23, 2016 , ... The need for blood donations in South Texas and ... the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center, blood donations are on the decline. In fact, ... they are down 21 percent in South Texas in the last four years alone. , ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... -- Oxitec CEO Hadyn Parry will ... ET before the United States House Committee on Science, Space ... in controlling the spread of the Aedes aegypti ...      (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20150630/227348 ) Oxitec has ... Trials in Brazil , Panama ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... Alto, CA (PRWEB) , ... May 23, 2016 ... ... and public interest organization focused on molecular nanotechnology, announced the winners for the ... of pioneer physicist Richard Feynman, are given in two categories, one for experiment ...
Breaking Biology Technology: