A persistent oxygen anomaly reveals the fate of spilled methane in the deep Gulf of Mexico.

Academic Article

Abstract

  • Methane was the most abundant hydrocarbon released during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Beyond relevancy to this anthropogenic event, this methane release simulates a rapid and relatively short-term natural release from hydrates into deep water. Based on methane and oxygen distributions measured at 207 stations throughout the affected region, we find that within ~120 days from the onset of release ~3.0 × 10(10) to 3.9 × 10(10) moles of oxygen were respired, primarily by methanotrophs, and left behind a residual microbial community containing methanotrophic bacteria. We suggest that a vigorous deepwater bacterial bloom respired nearly all the released methane within this time, and that by analogy, large-scale releases of methane from hydrate in the deep ocean are likely to be met by a similarly rapid methanotrophic response.
  • Authors

  • Kessler, John D
  • Valentine, David L
  • Redmond, Molly C
  • Du, Mengran
  • Chan, Eric W
  • Mendes, Stephanie D
  • Quiroz, Erik W
  • Villanueva, Christie J
  • Shusta, Stephani S
  • Werra, Lindsay M
  • Yvon-Lewis, Shari A
  • Weber, Thomas
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • January 21, 2011
  • Published In

    Keywords

  • Atlantic Ocean
  • Bacteria
  • Biodegradation, Environmental
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Hydrocarbons
  • Methane
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Petroleum
  • Phylogeny
  • Seawater
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 21212320
  • Start Page

  • 312
  • End Page

  • 315
  • Volume

  • 331
  • Issue

  • 6015