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Scoping out seepage

Scoping out seepage

November 19, 2009

Each year, millions of tons of methane and thousands of barrels of oil seep out of the ocean floor. On a recent cruise aboard the RV Atlantis, Christopher M. Reddy of WHOI (right) and David Valentine of UC Santa Barbara studied natural oil and methane seeps at a well-known site about a mile off the coast of Santa Barbara, Ca. Utilizing the DSV Alvin and new vehicle Sentry at the site’s unusually shallow depths (often less than 500 meters), the scientists hope to learn more about how seeped oil changes once released into the environment and how methane and other chemicals are eaten by natural populations of bacteria. They are also  exploring newly discovered mounds of asphalt that erupted as oil over 30,000 years ago.

(Photo by Karin Lemkau, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)

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