Is Methane a BP Whistleblower?

Photo courtesy the United States Coast Guard.

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


How much oil is leaking from the wreck of the Deepwater Horizon? Five thousand barrels a day? Or a whole lot more? And how would we ever know?

Well, David Valentine of the UC Santa Barbara writes in a Nature op-ed that were we to measure methane in the waters around the spill we’d know. That’s because some 40 percent of what’s leaking is likely to be methane—most of it dissolved in the water.

Valentine calculates that if 5,000 barrels a day were leaking  then some 7,500 tons of methane would have entered the Gulf in 27 days, driving methane concentrations to three times normal levels in a 2,000-square-mile, one-kilometer-deep stretch of the Gulf. He recommends that US research vessels start taking these measurements as an accurate means to assess the spill.

BTW, I posted a blog a day or two ago about Valentine’s work with dispersants and microbes, and all the bad potentials when the two meet.

H/T Roberta Kwok at Journal Watch Online.

The op-ed: Valentine, D. 2010. Measure methane to quantify the oil spill. Nature 465(7297), 421. DOI: 10.1038/465421a.

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

THE END...

of our fiscal year is Thursday, June 30, and we have a much larger fundraising gap than we can easily manage with only days left to go.

Right now is no time to come up short: If you value the hard-hitting, democracy-protecting, justice-advancing journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us keep charging as hard as we possibly can with a much-needed and much-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate