By J. DeVoy
Discussing the environment normally isn’t our schtick, but technology is another matter. NASA’s imaging technology has captured the following images of the growing Gulf spill, helping those not in the region get a sense of the slick’s scope and significance.
Of course, that’s just oil visible from the surface. The leak is a mile underwater where intense pressure and cold temperatures create unusual environments for many molecules. British Petroleum’s first attempt to cap the spill failed because gases piped to the gulf floor crystallized into solids, causing unforeseen problems and ultimately thwarting that plan.
For the same reasons, oil has been trapped in massive plumes beneath the water’s surface — something that defies conventional wisdom, as oil is lighter than water. In this case it’s not just oil, though, as the crude is rising up with mud and other substances. The resulting underwater clouds of oil are massive, with one measured at six miles across by 22 miles long. And, naturally, this crisis is being discovered and unearthed by advanced, highly sensitive underwater sensors.