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Page added on May 23, 2010

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Oil leaking into the Gulf could sink ships

The mysteries that lie beneath the ocean have always been part of the allure of the sea.

Think of Texas A&M – Galveston marine biologist Dr. Gil Rowe as an undersea detective. He is on the case of a haunting new tale.

“It is just amazing to me that they haven’t been able to get it under control and I don’t know what the problem is. Just amazing,” Rowe said.

Just before the massive oil blowout began, Rowe finished a study that found the part of the Gulf where the blowout is happening is the most diverse when it comes to sea life.

Exactly how that deep-sea ecosystem is being impacted is another mystery.

Mysteries just seem to pile up, Rowe said.

“It’s about 10 percent known and 90 percent unknown because it has never happened, and figuring out what is happening down there is going to be really difficult,” Rowe said.

Experts are hoping to get answers to the mystery of how much oil is leaking now that BP has released live video streams of the leaks, but that won’t solve the biggest mystery of all: Where is all that oil going?

Some of it is clearly getting to the surface, but there are other possibilities.

The temperature and pressure can cause oil and gas to form an ice-like substance deep under the sea.

When it moves out of the pressure of the deep, the ice substance turns from a solid directly into a gas.

“If enough of this ice-like substance came to the surface, and formed enough gas, it could sink a ship,” said Rowe. “The gas displaces the water. The ship sinks in the gas.”

That is something that’s never been witnessed, but it is a theoretical possibility.

Some have theorized that could be an explanation for another famous mystery — ships missing in the Bermuda Triangle.

When it comes to the Deepwater Horizon, there is only one thing that Rowe knows for sure.

“The impact of something like this is going to be so far-reaching in time, that it is going to be decades before we know the complete story,” he said.

It is a mystery, one filled with twists.

One scientific journal declined to publish Rowe’s recent study about the sea life in the area of the blowout. They said that it was of limited interest.


One Comment on "Oil leaking into the Gulf could sink ships"

  1. Edpeak on Tue, 25th May 2010 1:08 pm 

    You ended with “They said that it was of limited interest, but left out his very next sentence; the anchor followed it immediately with, “…not any more” is it of limited interest

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