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Deepwater Horizon oil

Mountains Upon Mountains

What look like colorful floating landscapes might better be called "oilscapes." They were created by WHOI scientists using comprehensive two-dimensional gas chromatography, which identifies thousands of individual chemical compounds that comprise different oils from different reservoirs. The red-capped peaks represent higher abundances of individiual compounds. In this case, the scientists analyzed oil found on mysterious debris floating in the Gulf of Mexico and oil from Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which exploded and burned in 2010. The chemical "fingerprints" of both oils matched, proving that the oil on the debris came from the damaged rig. (Image courtesy of Robert K. Nelson, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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