A new study shows that the BP oil spill of 2010 has left an oily "bathtub ring" the size of Rhode Island on the ocean floor.
The study, which was done by David Valentine, a geochemistry professor at the University of California and chief scientist on the federal damage assessment research ships, estimates that about 10 million gallons of oil coagulated on the sea floor around the damaged Deepwater Horizons oil rig.
According to NBC News, Valentine also said that the spill left other splotches containing even more oil.
The explosion of the Deepwater Horizons oil rig reportedly killed 11 workers and injured 16 others in addition to causing a major offshore oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In this disaster, 172 million gallons of oil was spilled into the ocean -- and scientists are still trying to ascertain where all the oil went and the effects it had.
Valentine stated that it is fairly obvious where the oil is from, even though there were no chemical signature tests because over time the oil has degraded.
"There's this sort of ring where you see around the Macondo well where the concentrations are elevated."
As part of the study, which was published on Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, scientists used data from the Natural Resource Damage Assessment process conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to evaluate more than 3,000 samples collected at 534 locations. They identified a 1,250-square-mile patch of the deep sea floor, about the size of Rhode Island, where 2 percent to 16 percent of the discharged oil was deposited.
According to Valentine, oil levels inside the ring were as much as 10,000 times higher than outside the 1,200-square-mile ring. A chemical component of the oil was found on the sea floor, anywhere from two-thirds of a mile to a mile below the surface.
The International Business Times reports that the scientists also identified hotspots in close proximity to damaged deep-sea corals, supporting a previously disputed finding that these corals were damaged by the Deepwater Horizon spill.
"The evidence is becoming clear that oily particles were raining down around these deep sea corals, which provides a compelling explanation for the injury they suffered," Valentine said in a statement. "The pattern of contamination we observe is fully consistent with the Deepwater Horizon event but not with natural seeps -- the suggested alternative."
Meanwhile, BP, which has reportedly spent more than $14 billion cleaning up the oil spill, questioned the conclusions of the study.
In an email to the Associated Press, spokesman Jason Ryan stated that "the authors failed to identify the source of the oil, leading them to grossly overstate the amount of residual Macondo oil on the sea floor and the geographic area in which it is found."
However, according to Valentine and study co-author Christopher Reddy, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute -- it is impossible at this point to do such chemical analysis, but all other evidence, including the depth of the oil, the way it laid out, and the distance from the well directly point to the BP rig.
Where the oil originated should not be the focus of any debate though -- as every day the world produces (damaging) carbon dioxide that is released into the earth's atmosphere, which will still be there in one hundred years' time.
With growing knowledge of alternative energy and the amazing benefits that can be had from it, why is there such a large dependence on the continuous use of fuels like oil and gas?
Alternative energy is not just for 'tree-huggers' and the like -- there exists a sustainable way to get and use energy.
Readers of The Inquisitr who are interested in alternative energy may enjoy our recent interview with Tom Tamarkin, the inventor of the smart meter. Mr.Tamarkin provided a riveting analysis of the failure of current alternative energy programs to provide sufficient, affordable substitutes for fossil fuels and the need for an American energy initiative on a par with the Apollo moon program. Only by involving all of our industry, talent and resources and working together as a nation can we solve the energy crisis.
The world is running out of oil and we must focus on a sustainable future.