BP oil leak 'much bigger than official estimates'

May 14, 2010
Contract workers unload oil booms to protect marshlands along the Gulf of Mexico on May 13 in Hopedale, Louisiana. Much more oil is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from a sunken British Petroleum oil rig than official estimates show, experts have warned as BP executives stuck to their guns and even tried to play down the size of the slick.

Much more oil is spewing into the Gulf of Mexico from a sunken British Petroleum oil rig than official estimates show, experts warned Friday as BP executives stuck to their guns and even tried to play down the size of the slick.

Steven Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University, said 14 times more oil was spewing into the sea than the officially estimated 5,000 barrels a day, National Public Radio (NPR) reported.

Wereley analyzed the sea-floor oil geyser at NPR's request using a technique called , which tracks particles and calculates how fast they are moving.

Another scientist, Timothy Crone of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, analyzed the undersea oil gusher for NPR using a different method, and came up with a similar figure.

And Eugene Chiang, a professor of astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, also got a similar answer, using just pencil and paper, NPR said.

Florida State University Ian R. MacDonald analyzed the slick using satellite imagery, and told the New York Times that his calculations suggested that the leak could "easily" be spewing four to five times as much oil into the Gulf as previously estimated.

The findings suggest the gulf spill is already the worst environmental disaster in US history, eclipsing the 1989 off Alaska.

But BP disputed the experts' analyses, saying there is no reliable method to calculate how much oil is flowing from the broken pipe on the sea floor.

BP's chief operating officer, Doug Suttles, said Friday on the CBS Early Show that he thought the official estimate of 5,000 barrels of oil pouring into the sea was "reasonable but highly uncertain."

And a BP spokesman noted to AFP that the 5,000-barrels-a-day figure was provided by NOAA, a US federal agency, and the oil company had confidence in it.

There are 42 gallons of oil per barrel. The official estimate would mean that 210,000 gallons of oil are spewing into the Gulf each day. If the experts' estimates are closer to the mark, that would be raised that to nearly three million gallons a day.

BP has estimated that there are at least 50 million barrels of oil in the undersea reservoir that is gushing into the Gulf, according to The New York Times.

BP chief executive Tony Hayward, meanwhile, played down the size of the spill, saying it was "tiny" when compared to the expanse of water it was pouring into.

"The Gulf of Mexico is a very big ocean. The amount of volume of and dispersant we are putting into it is tiny in relation to the total water volume," BP chief executive Tony Hayward told British daily The Guardian.

Explore further: Five anthropogenic factors that will radically alter northern forests in 50 years

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

BP relaunches subsea dispersant operations

May 11, 2010

BP restarted Monday operations to stream dispersants directly into the main Gulf of Mexico oil leak despite fears the chemicals could themselves be harmful to the environment.

BP struggles to cap leak as US oil slick spreads

Apr 26, 2010

British oil giant BP used robotic underwater vehicles Monday to try to cap a leaking well and prevent a growing oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico from developing into an environmental disaster.

NASA Captures Night Infrared View of Gulf Oil Spill

May 10, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A May 7 nighttime infrared image of the Gulf oil spill from an instrument on NASA's Terra spacecraft provides a different perspective on the oil slick nearing the Gulf coast.

Recommended for you

More, bigger wildfires burning western US, study shows

11 hours ago

Wildfires across the western United States have been getting bigger and more frequent over the last 30 years – a trend that could continue as climate change causes temperatures to rise and drought to become ...

User comments : 67

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

DickWilhelm
4.2 / 5 (9) May 14, 2010
While the spill might be "tiny" in relation to the total volume of water in the Gulf of Mexico it will not have a "tiny" impact. Much of that oil has sunk to the bottom where it will impact shrimp, oysters, and crab fisheries. The surface oil will ravage miles of coast, coral, nesting birds, and vital tidal areas.

So tell me, when it takes another two months to stop this thing and it has poured 4.5 million barrels (189 million gallons) into the Gulf... how "tiny" do you think the impact will be? $1 Trillion dollar cleanup, tiny? Or 10 years to recover, tiny? This is a terrible tragedy for both the economy of the Gulf States as well as the environment they are built on. Make BP pay for every last dime, even if it destroys them as a company. Make them liable for this atrocity.
gopher65
4.4 / 5 (7) May 14, 2010
Well, BP is feeling the effects of going with Transocean as their drilling company instead of, you know, a REAL drilling company. A drilling company that actually puts out an effort, and doesn't cut corners at every opportunity.

The sooner that Transocean goes out of business and has its contracts taken over by other companies, the better off we'll all be. And the better off the shareholders of the major holders of future offshore wells will be too;).
Quantum_Conundrum
4.6 / 5 (9) May 14, 2010
I proved this mathematically over a week ago based on satellite imagery and assuming an average slick thickness of just 0.001mm to calculate volumes. I found that the slick was at LEAST an order of magnitude to 1.5 orders of magnitude larger in volume than could be accounted for with only 5000 barrels per day. I actually did make a mistake in the first calculation, but the end result is that either way, the spill was definitely at least 10 to 30 times worse than official estimates by the government and BP.

I believe as many as 60-80 million gallons of Oil has already spilled into the gulf and has been emulsified and mixed with the water as of this date.

Of course, when I originally posted this, the usual forum trolls mocked me and basicly said, "Shut up, you couldn't possibly be smarter than the U.S. government's experts..."
Royale
3.8 / 5 (4) May 14, 2010
hopefully this will help spin America to greener and greener energy as time goes on. If we have to go out this far and deep for oil now, perhaps it's about time we should actually start using other technologies. Hell as far as life goes, coal mining is safer. (not for humans, but as far as any other life goes).
Royale
2.6 / 5 (5) May 14, 2010
sorry to hear quantum. trolls will be trolls though. you need to take it with little regard. let's see, since the government is in bed with oil (maybe a bit less now than under Bush) of course gov't estimates will be lax. This is the same gov't that sprayed DEET on kids a couple decades ago (to show how safe it was).
alanmatlock
4 / 5 (8) May 14, 2010
Yea, and a bullet is tiny when compared to an elephant but it still kills. That analogy is silly.
I think he should think of it as a little bit of anthrax. What harm could it do?
pt30
3.3 / 5 (6) May 14, 2010
@DickWilhelm
The oil has sunk. Really? I did not know that oil could sink in water.
solrey
4.4 / 5 (9) May 14, 2010
@pt30.
It's the chemical dispersants/surfactants that cause the oil to sink. The dispersants make the oil congeal, more or less, they don't make it go away. It just hides it from view and somewhat reduces the visible impact on shore while increasing the contamination "hidden" on the ocean floor, and suspended in stratified layers. One of those "solutions" that really only applies to the PR mess.
Quantum_Conundrum
4.4 / 5 (7) May 14, 2010
solrey:

pretty much nailed it. The oil is in various plumes throughout the entire volume of water in the region, likely killing everything from the surface all the way down to the sea floor, eventually.

Adding another 0.8 million gallons of chemical dispersants hides some of it from the surface, but it's all still there, and the chemicals aren't safe either.

Imagine if you dumped an ounce of dish washing detergent in your gold fish pond or aquarium...
Royale
3 / 5 (2) May 14, 2010
i think my goldfish would be headed down the toilet pretty soon after..
maybe we can import crawfish from china too! oh wait. they don't have them there. god what a mess.
gopher65
3.6 / 5 (5) May 14, 2010
I'm not disputing the severity of this Quantum, but your aquarium comparison is way, way off.

Average Aquarium Size: 25 US gallons = 3200 ounces
So 1 ounce is ~3.2^-4 of an aquarium.

Gulf of Mexico = 6.43*10^17 gallons
Size of leak (up to today), if it is a bit more than 10 times as bad as they've previously said + dispersants = ~5.5*10^7 gallons
So the spill + the (nastier version of) Palmolive :P that they've dumped in so far is 8.3*10^-11 of the gulf's total volume

So dumping 1 ounce of detergent in your aquarium will pollute it about 3.8 million times more than this leak has polluted the gulf... so far.

Not to diminish the size of the leak or anything. It's just that that goldfish analogy bugged me;). People (in general, including me) have a hard time estimating the volume of large areas, and Earth is a biiiiig place.
Royale
1 / 5 (3) May 14, 2010
good point gopher. I just want to be sure that i always have access to shrimp and crab. I guess since i'm closer to new england it comes from there anyway.
gopher65
4.8 / 5 (4) May 14, 2010
In fact, the entire northern Gulf contains ~7.2*10^8 barrels of oil. That means that if all that oil were pumped out of the ground (if that were possible) and dumped straight into the gulf at the same time, the result would still be ~6500 times less pollution per unit volume than your fish tank example.

You know, it's never struck me before just how FREAKING HUGE the oceans are 0_0. And the gulf is positively tiny compared to the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Wow.

I used to wonder why we'd explored so little of the ocean. Now I know.

Edited to add:
Royale: Oh yeah, those shrimp spawning areas are definitely in danger. Keep in mind that although I just pointed out that the gulf is GINORMOUS, that oil isn't going to spread out evenly. The areas nearer to the leak (specifically, those shrimping areas) are going to get hit hard.
Caliban
4 / 5 (4) May 14, 2010
There was already, from the outset, considerable doubt as to the accuracy of the "official" figure.

Depending on where you looked for the figure, the actual rate of the leak was available pretty much from the outset- it just went unreported by the usual mouthpiece media, ie ABC,NBC,CBS,FOX. And most of the Newspapers as well. This begs the question: wither the "Liberal" (aka-"progressive") Media?

A true Fourth Estate, committed to reporting the facts- as opposed to functioning as concigliere to Corporate/Government interests- would have had that info in everyone's faces about three weeks ago!

Sorry that people either ignored or jeered at your calculations, QC.

@gopher- BP used Transocean because they were the CHEAPEST- = MORE PROFIT - has nothing to do with safety record.

Lastly- Coal IS NOT any less damaging. The damage is (generally) just in smaller(though continuous) amounts.

And yes, BP, et al, should be scraped clean to pay for this arrogant, willful atrocity
HealingMindN
2 / 5 (4) May 14, 2010
Does it matter what any of the greedy, egotistical people at BP have to say at this point? Is was beyond them to contain the pressure. It might be beyond them to stop it. Is there a way we can shove their idiot engineers out of the way and bring in some really smart people to work on the leak? Any volunteers here? I can't believe the stupid "education" I got 20 years ago when the chem texts said we would run out of oil in 20 years. BP's idiot engineers probably still think that's fossil fuel.
frajo
5 / 5 (2) May 14, 2010
BP's idiot engineers probably still think that's fossil fuel.
What do you think it is?
otto1923
3.7 / 5 (3) May 14, 2010
But QC;
Other posters are partially right, much if not most of this goop might be underwater:
http://www.washin...6_2.html
-according to these Experts, multiple causes for subsurface oil migration. They don't know how far it's gotten. Your figures are at least coincidental or at most, Pudelscheiss.
otto1923
3 / 5 (4) May 14, 2010
Might I again suggest:
"the "nuclear option." A drone mini-sub is standing by, which could easily deploy "a B83 (Mk-83) strategic thermonuclear bomb having a variable yield (Low Kiloton Range to 1,200 Kilotons) which with its 12 foot length and 18 inch diameter, and weighing just over 2,400 pounds" could instantly seal the leak, "the only known and proven means" to do so."
http://www.boingb...pir.html
-let's do our Mexican compadres and our buddy Fidel a big favor while there's still time. Contact your congressman or the mujaheddin.
Nartoon
1 / 5 (6) May 14, 2010
Compared to the 'natural' oil seepage and leakage throughout the world this BP blowout is indeed tiny.
Quantum_Conundrum
1.3 / 5 (4) May 14, 2010
BP's idiot engineers probably still think that's fossil fuel.
What do you think it is?


Frajo:

There are lots and lots of hydrocarbons on Saturn's moon Titan.

I seriously doubt any life forms exist on Titan to have been changed into "fossil" fuels.

My personal belief is that most "fossil fuels" are simply formed the same way any other mineral deposit is formed, which is to say they formed through basic chemical and physical processes as the earth itself formed.

Barring the absolute worst mega-disasters, dead plants and animals simply are never deposited in the quantities needed to produce these products.

Even Mt. St. Helens didn't move or bury enough life to make even a fraction of one oil field, even if those plants and animals were 100% carbon and hydrogen. But in the vast majority of disasters, most or all of the carbon content is eventually recycled by bacteria and scavengers. So only instant, world wide catastrophic burial could produce oil fields.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (4) May 14, 2010
...however...

Even a large meteor or supervolcano could not produce "instant world wide catastrophic burial".

It would at worst do that locally within a few miles to a few tens of miles radius, but beyond that....nothing....even though other organisms would eventually die many hundreds or thousands of miles away, they wouldn't be buried.

Then you gotta figure to make an oil field it's not just killing a few hundred or thousand plants or animals. If the oil field is hundreds of feet deep, and a square mile, then you basicly need to bury a couple hundred feet worth of orgranism instantaneously in a single location.

As stated, even Mt. St. Helens, a VEI 5 volcano on a scale of VEI 8 being worst ever, did not accomplish this, though it came close regarding lahars and log jambs. Krakatoa did not accomplish this, and it is the worst disaster in human history in terms of energy released.

Anyway, the theory that this stuff comes from piles of dead animals is a joke. Great flood?
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (4) May 15, 2010
Might I again suggest: "the "nuclear option."


[sarcasm]Great. Let's make the hole BIGGER and release all of the stored oil at once. What a brilliant plan [/sarcasm]
Foundation
not rated yet May 15, 2010
Might I again suggest: "the "nuclear option."


[sarcasm]Great. Let's make the hole BIGGER and release all of the stored oil at once. What a brilliant plan [/sarcasm]


I agree, a nuclear detonation would probably just make a bigger hole. It'd also irradiate or outright kill any surrounding wildlife that miraculously survived. Don't forget the likely resulting tsunami and the evacuation of the whole area either.

There's something to be said about using nuclear energy (+batteries/fuel cells) instead of oil, but I really doubt this is the right way...
gopher65
5 / 5 (3) May 15, 2010
Quantum_Conundrum: Supervolcanoes can bury a continent. When Yellowstone blows its top the current estimates are the southern Florida will be buried in 9 metres of ash. Thick, concrete like ash. The whole of NA will be buried in ash, and part of SA too. That's going to be one nasty volcano;).

Also: Oil may or may not be a fossil fuel in the direct sense; it's hard to say. It may be the direct result of anaerobic bacteria (ie, a waste product), and it hasn't been *completely* ruled out yet that it's a geologic process (but it's much less unlikely than was thought a few decades ago). But coal is definitely a fossil fuel. It's essentially just compressed peat, which is produced in enormous quantities in the wet areas of Earth's landmasses.
Skeptic_Heretic
4.4 / 5 (5) May 15, 2010
There are lots and lots of hydrocarbons on Saturn's moon Titan.
None of which are kerogen or crude oil. Please stop insisting that all hydrocarbons are the same thing, they are not.
Then you gotta figure to make an oil field it's not just killing a few hundred or thousand plants or animals. If the oil field is hundreds of feet deep, and a square mile, then you basicly need to bury a couple hundred feet worth of orgranism instantaneously in a single location.

Brief primer on oil generation as we know it today:

When life arose on this planet the seas became filled with biotic goop that was stranded in massive pockets due to the several hundred mile tides as the moon was close to the earth. The sun would evaporate the water out leaving trillions if not more microorganisms and unicellular life forms stranded. These would be buried in sediment washing in with the next tide. Over millions and billions of years they broke down into kerogen and heat/pressure created oil...
otto1923
5 / 5 (2) May 15, 2010
Might I again suggest: "the "nuclear option."


[sarcasm]Great. Let's make the hole BIGGER and release all of the stored oil at once. What a brilliant plan [/sarcasm]
The drilling took place in 5000 ft of water and drilled to possibly 18,000 ft. An engineered blast would definitely seal the hole, leave the reservoir undamaged, and entertain people the world over.[sarcasm]
@quantumconniption
-Just out of curiosity how old do you think the world is? And what theories have you examined and rejected to reach your conclusions?
otto1923
4.7 / 5 (3) May 15, 2010
Ya know, I assume that when I post links or a post that people disagreeing with it would at least do a little research themselves instead of just making up a response based on 30yo propaganda? Am I naive?

Operation Wigwam- a 30kt test conducted in 2000ft of water:
http://en.wikiped...n_Wigwam
"The radiation doses for WIGWAM personnel were very low. This was because the depth of the detonation caused very little airborne contamination - and even that was blown away from the task force by the prevailing wind. No traces of fallout were detected on any of the upwind ships."

-a blast at the Deepwater Horizon site would be more than twice as deep. The device used would be chosen to minimize residual radiation and would most likely be much smaller than the wigwam test. There would be no effect to shorelines, no tidal wave, no fallout and no lasting effects other than political. AND IT WOULD PLUG THE HOLE.
Shootist
2.3 / 5 (3) May 15, 2010
There are lots and lots of hydrocarbons on Saturn's moon Titan.
None of which are kerogen or crude oil.


Ethane and methane have both been shown to form in the Mantle and lower crust w/o organic input.
frajo
not rated yet May 15, 2010
There would be no effect to shorelines, no tidal wave, no fallout and no lasting effects other than political. AND IT WOULD PLUG THE HOLE.
And the Titanic was unsinkable.
Quantum_Conundrum
1 / 5 (5) May 15, 2010
Skeptic Heretic:

1) The second half of your post certain isn't even self-consistent within the "old earth" theory framework, because the oldest oceans, according to the old earth theorists, are around 200 million years old, which means there cannot be any hydrocarbon deposits in the ocean older than 200 million years.

2) If yellowstone errupted, you would only end up with at most a few inches of carbon deposits being laid down for several reasons:

a) conus is grassland and forests. Grasses are mostly open space between blades, and would compress to maybe an inch or so worth of hydrocarbon deposits nation wide. Even counting trees and shrubs you'd have maybe less than a foot thick worth of deposit.

b) You gotta figure 60-70% of the mass of life is WATER, which is mostly oxygen by mass, not carbon. Then another ~15% of life's mass is calcium, sodium and other non-hydrocarbon trace elements.

c) Scavengers and microbes simply re-absorb most material anyway.
otto1923
2.2 / 5 (5) May 15, 2010
There would be no effect to shorelines, no tidal wave, no fallout and no lasting effects other than political. AND IT WOULD PLUG THE HOLE.
And the Titanic was unsinkable.
The Titanic was scuttled to discredit ocean liners and make transoceanic flight look preferable in contrast. It worked magnificently. Just like this 'disaster' will discredit oil in favor of gas and other alternatives. The most favored use for plowshare-type nukes was determined to be the freeing up of natural gas deposits. I'd post a vid but you probably wouldnt watch it.
otto1923
5 / 5 (2) May 15, 2010
@Quantum_Conundrum
according to the old earth theorists, are around 200 million years old
From the way you word this I take it you are a young-earth creationist... right? In which case your arguments are spurious (and dishonest) because you believe god created everything in a Great Exhalation but you dont argue from that standpoint. This process has been going on for a few BILLION years. And there is related macroscale evidence which ive posted before (limestone, O2 atmosphere) which points to life and its major effect on the planets surface which you fail to acknowledge.

http://web.archiv...sgs.html
-I think you may fail to accept the earths obvious age because you are unaware of the overwhelming evidence to support it. If god created this evidence then he is indeed a lying deceiving god who doesnt want his children to have faith in the senses he has given them. Or maybe thats what the people who created him want.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (4) May 15, 2010

1) The second half of your post certain isn't even self-consistent within the "old earth" theory framework
That'd be because I'm not a creationist because creationism is a joke. The rest of your post has nothing to do with anything I said, are you confused by the scientific understanding of the Early Earth and pre-biology or are you attempting to refute through obfuscation due to ignorance of said history?
frajo
4 / 5 (1) May 15, 2010
I'd post a vid but you probably wouldnt watch it.
Certainly not. I've only so much time to live and there are still so many books to read.
Btw, my only favourite conspiracy theory theorizes that all other CTs are made up by the CIA for disinformation purposes. :)
Caliban
4 / 5 (4) May 15, 2010
Compared to the 'natural' oil seepage and leakage throughout the world this BP blowout is indeed tiny.


Hey Nartoon-

There is a BIG difference between seeps of a few hundred/few thousands of gallons of crude, distributed throughout the entire world ocean, and a localised, CATASTROPHIC spill of TENS OF MILLIONS(and counting)gallons, all in a confined, ecologically sensitive, and economically important region. Let's not forget INTERNATIONAL.

This is NOT a natural event. Undoubtedly, natural releases of this magnitude have occurred before- but only as a result of geologic processes- NOT as a result of cheapest-way-possible- methodology profit-seeking, and deliberate, knowing, willful risk-taking.

Nice try at apples/oranges obfuscation, but it won't work -not here.
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) May 15, 2010
I'd post a vid but you probably wouldnt watch it.
Certainly not. I've only so much time to live and there are still so many books to read.
Btw, my only favourite conspiracy theory theorizes that all other CTs are made up by the CIA for disinformation purposes. :)
Vids are books in moving picture form. My favorite CT is the one in which the CIA, USA, EU, USSR et al are made up by... Empire. BTW you spelled 'favorite' wrong. :)
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (1) May 15, 2010
BTW QC, what do you think Hydrocarbons are? hydro, as in hydrogen, or in some cases water, and carbon.

So if life is primarily carbon based, and the majority of carbon based life is water, wouldn't it lend itself to possibly being the composition of water and carbon under pressure and heat that creates hydrocarbons? Funny, most oils are found with salt water. What else does biotic like have in it other than carbon and water.....

OH YEAH, SALTS!
frajo
not rated yet May 15, 2010
Vids are books in moving picture form.
A very common urban legend. But no movie I ever saw (with one exception - 2001) was nearly as good as the original paperware.
My favorite CT is the one in which the CIA, USA, EU, USSR et al are made up by... Empire.
I think, this one has been crafted by you.
BTW you spelled 'favorite' wrong. :)
Oh thanks; I'm always eager to learn a language. But my Oxford Dictionary tells me that I'm not wrong as long as I'm writing here in Europe. :)
Eric_B
5 / 5 (1) May 15, 2010
When is BP going to announce a contest for best solution since their engineers can't hack it?

I bet those worms are trolling this and pages of every university that has an engineering dept. to try and swipe a clue as to what to do.
thermodynamics
3.3 / 5 (7) May 16, 2010
Quantum: Just to elaborate on Skeptic's comment on the origin of oil, you should take the time to look closely at the actual analyzes of oil. It turns out that it is made up, partially, of ring structures such as asphaltene and other complex rings as well as simpler hydrocarbons. It turns out that the structures are very similar to those found in plants. It is true that some known subterranean processes can make simple hydrocarbons, but there is not a hint they can make the more complex hydrocarbons. Let me give you an example. In Iraq and Venezuela the oils are very heavy and have a lot of complex rings. Some of the structures are even similar to chlorophyll. The asphaltene can cause problems during combustion since it chars instead of vaporizing. I know that because I have been burning the oil and having it analyzed for the past 20 years. I wish it were simple hydrocarbons at times, but those have to be distilled and are more expensive than crudes or residual oils.
Foundation
5 / 5 (3) May 16, 2010
Ya know, I assume that when I post links or a post that people disagreeing with it would at least do a little research themselves instead of just making up a response based on 30yo propaganda? Am I naive?


Nobody suggested there'd be radiation above water...
I suggested the possibility of a tidal waves with your (up to) 1.2Mt proposal (vs 30kt WIGWAM).

If we're quoting wikipedia anyway: http://en.wikiped...xplosion
"The heights of surface waves generated by deep underwater explosions are greater because more energy is delivered to the water. Deep underwater explosions are thus particularly able to damage coastal areas, because surface waves increase in height as they move over shallow water, and can flood the land beyond the shoreline."
otto1923
1 / 5 (1) May 16, 2010
Right. But there were no 'tidal waves' with wigwam at 2000 ft, certainly none at 5000 ft with a smaller device and a shot engineered for the purpose. Fearmonger.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) May 16, 2010
Anyone suggesting the use of localized nuclear blasts to stop a hydrocarbon leak in the shallow seas which happen to be a rich world fishery is a blithering idiot, that's all there is to it. Sorry Otto, it's a bad idea. Radiative fallout in water is brutal. It is a wholly bad idea.
Thrasymachus
4.6 / 5 (7) May 16, 2010
Old earth theorists believe that the oldest oceans are only 200 million years old? That's news to me. Last I heard, our oceans have been full of salt water for at least the last 3 and a half billion years. Plant and animal life doesn't need to be piled up and then "suddenly covered" to form oil. A very rich forest or swamp can build up organic material for hundreds of thousand or millions of years and can begin squeezing that material into oil even as the top layers are still being laid down by living organisms.
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) May 16, 2010
Anyone suggesting the use of localized nuclear blasts to stop a hydrocarbon leak in the shallow seas which happen to be a rich world fishery is a blithering idiot, that's all there is to it. Sorry Otto, it's a bad idea. Radiative fallout in water is brutal. It is a wholly bad idea.
Uh, you got any sources that would make me believe these are more than just uninformed opinions from a blithering idiot? And I should also expect you to provide some comparisons between the risk of further damage from this spill vs a well-engineered shot to stop the leak NOW. Otherwise I must regard you as one more superstitious fearmonger and a hapless victim of cold war propaganda.
marjon
1 / 5 (3) May 16, 2010
Anyone suggesting the use of localized nuclear blasts to stop a hydrocarbon leak in the shallow seas which happen to be a rich world fishery is a blithering idiot, that's all there is to it. Sorry Otto, it's a bad idea. Radiative fallout in water is brutal. It is a wholly bad idea.

Operation Wigwam: 2000' underwater nuclear detonation. Negligible radiation.
http://nuclearwea...wam.html
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) May 17, 2010
And I should also expect you to provide some comparisons between the risk of further damage from this spill vs a well-engineered shot to stop the leak NOW.

How about the fact that a directed blast of anything won't close the borehole? We are not able to model a blast of this nature underwater to plug a pressurized borehole. No real world test you can come up with will be analogus to what's occuring now.
otto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) May 17, 2010
And I should also expect you to provide some comparisons between the risk of further damage from this spill vs a well-engineered shot to stop the leak NOW.

How about the fact that a directed blast of anything won't close the borehole? We are not able to model a blast of this nature underwater to plug a pressurized borehole. No real world test you can come up with will be analogus to what's occuring now.
Yes it will, and I say this as an expert in the same things which caused you to form that uninformed opinion which came out of your borehole. Except I'm right.

Obviously, overpressure of an adjacent blast would force compacted, melted debris far down the shaft as adjacent materials were fractured, compressed and deformed for 100s of feet in every direction. The question is why do you think all this heat and pressure wouldnt be sufficient to do this? Must I do research to find examples where explosives have been used to close wells and stop leaks? I dont want to.
otto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) May 17, 2010
We are not able to model a blast of this nature underwater to plug a pressurized borehole.
You're right. Evolution always starts with a premeditated answer.
Notice the similarity between these 2 answers?

"NEW ORLEANS - After more than three weeks of trying to stop a gushing oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, BP engineers have achieved some success using a mile-long pipe to capture some of the oil and divert it to a drill ship on the surface ..." Interesting... theyve instituted an expensive 'maintenance' operation as the first success instead of capping the leak altogether. Kind of like treating AIDS instead of curing it- more 'profit' -?
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) May 17, 2010
Notice the similarity between these 2 answers?

Yes, they're both absolutes.

One is absolutely correct, the second is absolutely false.

The oil is being forced out of the hole due to it's buoyancy in addition to the nat gas pressure. On an above ground well the oil is not forced out due to buoyancy and must depend on pressurized gas as a propellent or a pumping mechanism.

Dropping superheated rock on top of the hole won't form a plug. Want to test it out? Try spackling over your bathtub drain while it's full using liquid sand and tell me how that goes for you.
otto1923
1.8 / 5 (5) May 17, 2010
So tell me SH the virtual engineer; how do you know that someone somewhere has not done exactly this or at least modelled it to a high degree of confidence?
Dropping superheated rock on top of the hole won't form a plug.
And this? How do you know that specialists havent already determined that this is feasible?
Try spackling over your bathtub drain
Try sitting on your pool drain and tell me how it turns out.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) May 17, 2010
So tell me SH the virtual engineer; how do you know that someone somewhere has not done exactly this or at least modelled it to a high degree of confidence?
Dropping superheated rock on top of the hole won't form a plug.
And this? How do you know that specialists havent already determined that this is feasible?
Try spackling over your bathtub drain
Try sitting on your pool drain and tell me how it turns out.

Go ahead and link a model of the current issue and its abatement utilizing 1.2Mt nuclear weaponry. Prove me wrong. That's right, you can't, because you assume things must fit your neatly created framework, just like a creationist. If you've ever modeled fluid dynamics under explosive pressure you'd know that we do not have a reliable mechanism by which to judge cavitation nor thermal displacement of seafloor utilizing any device, let alone a roughly tested directed plowshare nuke.
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) May 17, 2010
Enough Otto-baiting... The approach most likely explored would be to collapse the hole ie to detonate an appropriate distance away to shove enough rock over the opening to stop the flow. Engineers would have to analyse local geology to determine the best way to do this. It might mean the device would have to be placed in a hole a few hundred feet or so away.

I do not know how close these relief wells are being drilled but it would not be improper to speculate that they are actually being drilled for the purpose.
judge cavitation nor thermal displacement of seafloor utilizing any device, let alone a roughly tested directed plowshare nuke.
Hence all the testing with both nukes and conventional explosives during your 'cold war'.
Skeptic_Heretic
5 / 5 (2) May 17, 2010
So when told to substantiate your statements it's Otto baiting.

Good to know.
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) May 17, 2010
So when told to substantiate your statements it's Otto baiting.

Good to know.
No when called an idiot without substantial refutation is otto-hetzen
-Ok heres one anecdotal source (sounds plausible) -
http://rawstory.c...-geyser/
I'll post more if I find them-
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) May 17, 2010
Heres essentially the same story with some constructive comment:
http://news.slash...from=rss
-The pic is misleading-
-You all really should get out more, expand your horizons, realize all the many wonders which the human mind has created.
otto1923
5 / 5 (1) May 17, 2010
@thermodynamics
You got something pertinent to add? Im refuting SH and his statement:
No real world test you can come up with will be analogus to what's occuring now.
I think Ive done that. What do you think?
http://www.oil-pr...pill.php
Skeptic_Heretic
3 / 5 (3) May 18, 2010
So three blog posts count as compelling evidence.

That's why I called you an idiot.
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) May 18, 2010
http://www.telegr...eak.html
Pravda, Telegraph... What do you think? Heehee
naw you call me an idiot because you're just old and my ideas scare you because they ring true.
The question is, did the soviets use these things in similar applications and does this make you look like an old idiot?

No real world test you can come up with will be analogus to what's occuring now.

Skeptic_Heretic
3.7 / 5 (3) May 18, 2010
Because Russia was always at the forefront of environmental and rational thought...
thermodynamics
2.5 / 5 (6) May 18, 2010
otto1923: The ability to rate a comment is given to us to give our idea of our evaluation of the value of the comment. As you have probably seen, when there are questions involving chemistry, physics, heat transfer, and thermodynamics I comment extensively. When someone puts forward a bone-head idea that is not based on science why would I do anything other than give them a 1 and stay out of an argument that is not science based. Using a nuclear weapon to stop an oil leak is bone-head. Others are pointing that out quite well. I do reserve the right to rate the value of the comments. Thanks for asking.
otto1923
3 / 5 (2) May 18, 2010
When someone puts forward a bone-head idea that is not based on science
With all due respect, how would you know? Why would the pres send a team of nuclear physicists to the gulf? Maybe he wants to find out if oil is radioactive...
http://www.telegr...eak.html
-Seriously, you dont think that prior soviet experiments and field applications of nuclear explosives in similar situations has any scientific relevence? Or you just discount these reports because they just seem 'boneheaded' to you?
thermodynamics
2.8 / 5 (5) May 18, 2010
otto1923: Actually, the president has sent a lot of smart people who are not nuclear scientists to the Gulf as well as the nuclear scientists. The reason is that he wants smart people coming up with ideas and some of those are nuclear physicists. That has nothing to do with the idea that they are looking at the nuclear option. I do not think the Soviet experiments have anything to do with this situation because that was done back in the days when we were looking at Plowshare and no one had any idea of the long-term ramifications of the extensive radioactivity released by a nuclear weapon. We know better now. We have extensive information on the residual effects of underwater nuclear explosions and they are bad. There were sections of the South Pacific that could not be visited for decades and there are islands that still cannot be repopulated. It would be "bone-headed" and political suicide to detonate a nuclear weapon to stop this leak.
otto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) May 18, 2010
That has nothing to do with the idea that they are looking at the nuclear option.
That is an assumption. My assumption is that this team was sent to explore the nuclear option with the people onsite.
I do not think the Soviet experiments have anything to do with this situation because that was done back in the days when we were looking at Plowshare and no one had any idea of the long-term ramifications of the extensive radioactivity released by a nuclear weapon.
Another assumption. Youve given no indication that you are sufficiently knowledgeable to offer these opinions.
We know better now.
We know how to tell the difference between the anti-nuke propaganda we were flooded with in the last century, and the realities of actual test results now available to the public. Cousteau found that testing at mururoa had no long-term effects on sealife. The Project Gnome cavity was habitable 6 months after creation. Only 2 of many real examples disproving your hysteria.
Caliban
2.3 / 5 (4) May 18, 2010
This whole thread has become quite amusing. No disrespect intended. Neither side is being entirely fair.

I will weigh in thusly: the science of plowshare-class nukes is only known to us in the sketchiest of forms, because it was/is classified. And while it is true that the science remains unclear,
there is plenty of evidence to support the use of these devices for the aforementioned purposes, and yes, our assumptions regarding the persistence of negative effects of radiation from these type devices has proven to be overstated.

This whole problem is going to have to be subject to intense cost/benefit analysis. After 2-3 additional months of unstemmed flow, which could quite possibly increase -with further device or intervention-attept failure- the consequences are quickly going to be indistinguishable in terms of scale and longevity, especially given that the leak may be SEVERAL TIMES larger than the official estimates, and is sure to spread beyond US territory.
otto1923
2.3 / 5 (3) May 18, 2010
This whole problem is going to have to be subject to intense cost/benefit analysis
-which has probably been done already a few times over, in past decades, in some think tank somewhere. I might be wrong but I think we may be hearing about this in the next few days, one way or another. Russians predicted 80% chance of success in the gulf-
Stupidaggini
5 / 5 (2) May 26, 2010
The oceans are dying as a result of the cumulative effects of man's greed.
Amoco Cadiz encountered stormy weather and ran aground off the coast of Brittany, France on March 16, 1978. 68.7 million gallons of oil spilled.
1991 the Iraqi Army destroyed tankers, oil terminals, and oil wells in Kuwait, releasing 900,000,000 barrels of oil.
12/15/1976, the Argo Merchant ran aground on Fishing Rip, southeast of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts spilling 7.7 million gallons of fuel oil
August 1993, three ships collided in Tampa Bay, Florida spilling 336,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil.
3/24/1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska spilling 10.8 million gallons of oil impacting 1,100 miles of non-continuous Alaskan coastline.
Ixtoc I, blew in 06/1979 in the Bay of Campeche. Brought under control in 03/1980 the well spilled 140 million gallons of oil.
The Megaborg released 5.1 million gallons of oil south-southeast of Galveston, TX in 06/1990.

More news stories

There's something ancient in the icebox

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

China says massive area of its soil polluted

A huge area of China's soil covering more than twice the size of Spain is estimated to be polluted, the government said Thursday, announcing findings of a survey previously kept secret.

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...

Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

Men who show signs of chronic inflammation in non-cancerous prostate tissue may have nearly twice the risk of actually having prostate cancer than those with no inflammation, according to results of a new study led by researchers ...