The main image shows the Mississippi River Valley about two weeks ago, golden tan in color, and the river itself meandering down towards the Gulf of Mexico. Brown and tan sediments pour out of the delta area and into the gulf to the south of New Orleans, visible as a grey area. The city and its surroundings are best observed in the color close-up image.
The black and white radar images, on the other hand, offer a look back at the spread of the oil slick during the first month and a half of the oil spill. These wide-swath ASAR images make it possible to observe a wide area in great detail, and allow the oil to be seen much more clearly than in color images.
A little more than six months after the Deepwater Horizon oil platform caught fire and ultimately sank, signs of that accident continue to appear along the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. Louisiana fishermen found “massive stretches” of oil floating toward marshes in the Mississippi Delta last week, reported Discovery News.
It is hardly the only observation of surface, or near-surface, oil since the Obama administration gleefully declared in August that 75 percent of the Deepwater Horizon spill had been magically cleaned up. Still unresolved is perhaps the most contentious issue of all: Where did all the oil go? Even allowing for the skimming and burning of much of the surface oil, the bulk of what entered the Gulf as a result of the Deepwater Horizon disaster should still be somewhere beneath the waves.
A team of researchers found evidence of oil in the water column far beneath the surface, approximately 300 miles (500 km) from the site of the accident, by analysing the water for low oxygen levels — a sign that oil-consuming bacteria were in the area. Interestingly, however, the scientists didn’t find quite as strong a low-oxygen signal as they anticipated. This doesn’t mean that the oil isn’t there, but rather that bacteria aren’t consuming as much of it as they might have predicted. It could be that some of those undersea plumes have, as time has passed, become more diffuse and thus harder to detect.