Nearly two years after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, a report has been published by the National Academy of Sciences. The study led by Thomas Ryerson, a research chemist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, found that surface slick from the spill accounted for only about fifteen percent of the total release. Thirty six percent of the oil and gas stayed in deep underwater plumes. The fate of a quarter of the released material (206 million gallons of crude oil) is still unknown.
Learning what was released, where it went and in what quantities is important for understanding the impact on ecosystems. The movement of the oil in currents and the water column helps determine which creatures were exposed. Scientists hope that further study will reveal what happened to the missing twenty five percent of the spill and shed more light on how it impacted the marine environment.