View Full Version : Alvin deepsea research sub to study BP's ill-fated Macondo well April 2014

6th April 2014, 20:26
Years now after the "event" researchers are bringing the Alvin deep sea submarine vehicle (http://www.whoi.edu/alvin/) to the Macondo well site to see what damage is present to the environment, if leaks are present, if there are other "seeps" present in the area leaking oil into the sea.

ref: http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/researchers-use-alvin-sub-to-study-mile-deep-seafloor-near-bp-well-blowout/

They will collect water samples, biological samples, and sediment samples from the ocean bottom in the area. The scientists will study areas where the seafloor was covered with oil in 2010, staying outside a 2 nautical mile circle around the wellhead. In other words, oil spread quite far on the ocean bottom from the wellhead, and the scientists are interested in the further reaching spill damage.


"We particularly want to know if the oil-contaminated sediment layers are still there," she said. "It may be buried beneath a layer of sedimentation, but its effects could still be profound and we will be able to assess this."

"Joye was the leader of several independent research cruises using submersible vehicles to track the effects of the oil spill in the months immediately following the spill. She was part of a team that quickly published a peer-reviewed paper that explained that a significant percentage of the hydrocarbons released by the wells were traveling as methane gas in a miles-long plume between 3,200 feet and 4,800 feet beneath the surface, and another study that found oil droplets or microbes that ate the droplets rained down on a large area of the seafloor around the well, including on deepwater coral reefs about 10 miles north of the well.

"In April, the researchers also will visit a series of natural seeps of oil that are between 75 and 300 nautical miles away from the wellhead, part of a long-term microbial observatory research project that is examining the role of hydrocarbon-rich, salty brine fluids that are expelled naturally from the seafloor on fluid and sediment geochemistry and microbiology."

The methane hydrocarbon signature has been confirmed as now being found in the Gulf-Food-Chain (http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/researcher-finds-methane-oil-spill-entered-food-web/)

Meaning that the GAS from the well (and other seeps) is entering the food-chain.


6th April 2014, 23:08
Is there any way for them to see how much methane leaked out of that accursed well?

edit: is it tied in any way to the Louisiana sinkholes? @@

7th April 2014, 00:17
Is there any way for them to see how much methane leaked out of that accursed well?

edit: is it tied in any way to the Louisiana sinkholes? @@

http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/project-pages/hydrates/seafloor.html - this link points to a hypothesis by the USGS special projects

"U.S. Geological Survey Gas Hydrates Project"

Methane plus low temperature plus seawater creates an ice-mud complex locking in the gas..

"For decades, it has been postulated that submarine slope failures are spatially linked to the presence of gas hydrates/gas-charged sediments and temporally linked to episodes of climate change. The evidence for these linkages remains anecdotal, and increasingly the causal relationship between gas hydrates and slope failures is being questioned. More likely, gas hydrates and/or associated gas charging play a role in pre-conditioning slopes for failure. When triggered by earthquakes, oversteepening of sediments, or other factors, slopes containing gas hydrates/gas may fail. Several types of studies are required to clarify the relationships among slope failures, gas hydrates, and climate change. One of the key needs is determining whether currently-observed charging of sediments with methane gas and/or hydrate leads or lags the timing of slope failures.

USGS scientists have a long tradition of studying submarine slope failures and were among the first to note a spatial link between slope failures and gas hydrates/gas-charged sediments.

USGS Gas Hydrates scientists support the USGS Hazards Mission area through field-based surveys that refine understanding of this association and through geotechnical studies that evaluate the response of sediments to dissociation of gas hydrate. In recent years, USGS Gas Hydrates Project scientists have studied the Cape Fear Slide, the Storegga Slide, and slides on the US Beaufort margin"

See area in blue:


These methane sediment-ice regions forming on the ocean floor (and possibly beneath in pockets) could account for sudden releases of methane gas pockets, and subsequent collapse of the surrounding ground. The ice though needs to be kept at a low temperature and seismically stable to remain in solid-methane-ice form.

http://woodshole.er.usgs.gov/project-pages/hydrates/primer.html - the gas hydrates can exist in PERMA-FROST AREAS (on land)

These locations have shown gas hydrate formation:


"Globally, gas hydrate has been recovered or inferred in many continental margin settings and in onshore permafrost or offshore relict permafrost that was flooded by sea level rise over the past ~15,000 years. Gas hydrate has also been recovered from sediments beneath Lake Baikal, Earth’s largest freshwater lake.

"It is estimated that 99% of the world’s gas hydrate occurs in marine sediments.

"This estimate was made before modern drilling of permafrost-associated gas hydrates, but scientists still believe that most of the global gas hydrate occurs in the uppermost hundreds of meters of sediments at ocean water depths greater than ~500 m and close to continental margins.

"Except on upper continental slopes (300-700 m water depth), the seafloor of most of the world’s oceans lies within the hydrate stability zone. Apart from a few locations, though, persistent seafloor gas hydrate mounds are relatively rare and not volumetrically important compared to the size of the global reservoir. Gas hydrate is in theory also stable in the lower part of the ocean water column, and gas bubbles rising from the seafloor sometimes form a shell of gas hydrate that usually does not survive very long."

The scientists when Alvin gets to the locations of interest, will be taking water samples and sediment samples..

If there are gas-hydrates formed in the sediment, such will show up as locked in gas and will evolve when the temperature is increased.

Part of the problem sealing the Macondo wellhead was the continuous forming of methane-ice (gas hydrates) where the gas was voiding. With a set of fractures, exposing the gas to the sediment, so that a sieve-like (small bubble formation) structure exist, large amounts can be formed in the sediment mud. This phenomenon was also suspected as to interfering with the proper bonding of the well casing sealing, resulting in the failure of the well. (http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/12/nation/la-na-oil-spill-cause-20100512)

( A UC Berkeley professor who is conducting an informal assessment of the Deepwater Horizon wellhead blast said Tuesday that BP documents leaked to him indicate that contaminants in cement encasing the well were the initial cause of the explosion that led to the ongoing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Robert Bea, a UC Berkeley professor who directs the school's Center for Catastrophic Risk Management, said the flaw led to natural gas shooting up a riser pipe from the wellhead to the rig above, where it exploded. )

I don't know to what depth these scientists will be core-sampling the sediments. When the papers are published we can take a look to see what they found and update further.

The question is a good one - and much research would be needed to get these answers.

Burning Ice (Methane Hydrate)


18th April 2014, 16:48
Coast Guard says not so fast BP !

BP claimed today that it's cleanup efforts are done.

from the Washington Post - http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/bp-and-coast-guard-issue-conflicting-statements-about-status-of-gulf-cleanup/2014/04/16/e1a5305e-c594-11e3-8b9a-8e0977a24aeb_story.html

"On Tuesday night, BP said that the “active cleanup” of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill had been brought “to a close.” Later Tuesday night, the Coast Guard said the response to the spill isn’t over yet, “not by a long shot.”

The deep sea ALVIN underwater explorer submarine this month is actively taking samples (to show how much of the damage still remains) on the ocean bottom, sediment and water samples miles away from the well disaster zone.



ref: http://www.thewire.com/national/2014/04/bp-and-the-coast-guard-disagree-on-whether-bp-is-done-cleaning-up-the-gulf/360793/

"On Tuesday, oil company BP announced the end to “active shoreline cleanup operations” on the Gulf Coast, just under four years after an explosion and subsequent fire at one of their drilling rigs cause millions of gallons of oil to leak into the Gulf of Mexico. The Coast Guard quickly stepped in to clarify that BP was not actually finished.

"BP’s announcement of the end of “active cleanup,” a semantic twist meaning pretty much nothing, coincided with the Coast Guard ending patrols of the final three miles of Louisiana shoreline.

"As The Washington Post explains, the Coast Guard and BP will not be actively searching for oil slicks but instead responding to specific, reported instances of oil coming ashore. To draw an analogy, BP picked up all the really big pieces of glass but if you slice your foot open on something they missed, please let them know.

"The Coast Guard’s federal on-scene coordinator Captain Thomas Sparks clarified that the end of so-called “active cleanup” was not the end of “cleanup.” In the Coast Guard’s release, he says:

Let me be absolutely clear: This response is not over—not by a long shot. The transition to the Middle Response process does not end clean-up operations, and we continue to hold the responsible party accountable for Deepwater Horizon cleanup costs."

27th April 2014, 19:29
Alvin deep sea research submarine location as of 27 April 14


http://www.whoi.edu/cruiseplanning/synopsis.do?id=2442 - researcher Samantha Joye reporting: Chief Scientist, Principal Investigator
Room 220 Marine Sciences Bldg Athens, GA USA 30602-3636
+1 706 542 5893

This Cruise Objectives:

1) characterize the local geology of brine seeps using ALVIN multibeam and ATLANTIS multibeam surveys;
2) collect sediment and brine samples from brine seeps using ALVIN;
3) collect water samples from above brine seeps using the CTD rossette;
4) collect sediment samples from around brine seeps using the multiple corer;
5) collect zooplankton samples using the MOCNESS;
6) collect water from brine basins using the CTD rossette and "brine depth profiler" operated from ALVIN;
7) conduct sediment and water column sampling at three sites in the vicinity of the Macondo wellhead.

3rd June 2014, 18:59

Fish deformities have been showing up as far south and east off Florida from the BP well spill.

The coastal ocean region known as the WFS includes waters east of the DeSoto Canyon and south to the Florida Straits.

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead landed on northwestern Florida panhandle beaches in June of 2010. For three weeks, satellite and aerial images with accompanying model simulations showed oil moving on surface waters further east, close to Cape San Blas, then it receded and was no longer visible in that area.

However, public and scientist findings were emerging that indicated compounds from this oil – though no longer visible – continued to impact the WFS marine environment.

Fisherman reported anecdotally that reef fish caught in the WFS region had lesions and deformities.

Then scientists conducted systematic sampling of reef fish in the area and as far south as the Dry Tortugas, and their catches had lesions and other indicators of fish disease. (Dry Tortugas is a noted dolphin habitat).

Researchers then examined fish livers. Their results found signatures of oil compounds, similar in composition to that from oil samples taken from the Deepwater Horizon wellhead, in some reef fishes. Scientists for this study sought to demonstrate if conditions could have been such that subsurface currents transported oil through the WFS that would be consistent with these findings.

Over the years researchers have developed and combined several numerical circulation models to understand the complex current systems that work throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Already established was that the “WFS experienced a strong and persistent period of upwelling that began within one month of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and then lasted through the end of the year.”

The strong current data motived this research team to use the West Florida Coastal Ocean Model (WFCOM), which consists of the Finite Volume Coastal Ocean Model (FVCOM) nested in the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM), and add a passive tracer (a proxy for oil) to track where this current could have transported hydrocarbons.

ref: http://gulfresearchinitiative.org/scientists-revisit-wellhead-site-legendary-research-submarine/

2nd November 2014, 16:53
Data finally being released.


BP doesn't like the results..

In a study published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers revealed what they've called a "bathtub ring" of oil that has formed on the seafloor. Researchers measured levels of hopane, a chemical found in oil that doesn't decompose easily, along with spatial analysis to determine where the oil came from.

In the area surrounding the Macondo well the top layer of higher concentrations of oiled sediment remains on the top layer of the sea floor, said David Valentine, a geochemistry professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, who authored the study.

Researchers analyzed the placement of the chemical in the Northern Gulf, and found patterns that point straight at the Macondo well as the source, Valentine said in email. He said it became clear this was recently placed oil due to an exceptional amount concentrated near the well.

In those areas, the top layer of hopane was sometimes ten times as great than in areas further away from the well.

BP cast doubt on the accuracy of the study's findings. In a statement, Jason Ryan , a company spokesman, said the researchers did not use "rigorous chemical fingerprinting" when they identified the oil.

A fingerprinting analysis can be used to determine where petroleum products originated. Valentine said fingerprinting was performed, but has not yet been published, adding: "We chose to use the spatial analysis because it appears more accurate given the magnitude of this spill."

2nd November 2014, 17:19
I always wondered if that catastrophy in the Gulf of Mexico was to spread the black goo in the food chain. Nowadays i wonder still more about this after reading the thread talking about AI s and the invasion of our galaxy by AI spreading through cold viruses and/or this black oil goo.