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Microbes Ate My Oil Spill - Sierra Daily
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Sierra Daily

Aug 24, 2010

Microbes Ate My Oil Spill

It's a B-movie plot we can all cheer: A newly discovered, fast-eating species of microbes may have devoured the Gulf of Mexico's deepwater plume of oil.

According to Terry Hazen, a microbial ecologist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, light sweet Louisiana crude is easily digestible. It's as smooth, apparently, as a mint julep on a lazy summer day on the Gulf.

As if you weren't getting your fill of pretty oil-spill imagery, Hazen says that within two weeks of the capping of the Macondo well in July, the 22-mile-long deep-sea plume could no longer be detected. Instead, a phenomenon called "marine snow" indicated that microbes had been feasting on hydrocarbons.

--Reed McManus


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