Gulf oil spill: Natural gas can give clues to size of spill
In an article published in the British journal Nature this week, UC Santa Barbara geochemist David Valentine said that dragging gas sensors through the waters near the spill in the Gulf of Mexico could provide data on how much methane is lurking in the ocean.
From that figure, the volume of oil could be derived, he said. The leaking oil has high concentrations of methane, perhaps as much as 40% by mass, he said. But unlike oil, methane dissolves in water and can be measured empirically, Valentine said. Once the level of methane is determined, the amount of oil can be calculated, he said.
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-- Jill Leovy