The Oil Spill From Above

A view of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as seen from a NOAA research aircraft, June 2010.
David Valentine, University of California Santa Barbara

In this view of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill from above in June 2010, you can see bright orange oil floating on the ocean's surface on the left and, on the right, a thin layer of oil reflects the colors of the rainbow. However, there is more going on beneath the surface. Along with oil, methane gas spewed from the Macondo well and dissolved into the ocean, forming a plume in the deep sea at around 4,000 feet (1,200 meters) depth. Scientists with the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) suspect that this dissolved methane fueled a microbial food web after the spill. Find out how.