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Deepwater Horizon flotation

The Telltale Clue

Soon after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, pieces of a mysterious white substance was found bobbing in the Gulf of Mexico. The material was hard, porous, and uniformly embedded with small, black spheres. WHOI scientists analyzed samples of it and determined that it was manmade. They also analyzed oil on the debris and showed that it matched oil from Deepwater Horizon. Still, the researchers did not know what the material was or where it came from until they found this debris on Louisiana's remote Chandeleur Islands. A weathered sticker provided an undeniable clue that the material was, in fact, flotation foam from the Deepwater Horizon rig. (Photo by Catherine Carmichael, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)


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