Oil Spill May Cause Methane Poisoning, Completely Wiping Out Life In Parts Of Gulf

Friday, June 18, 2010
By Paul Martin

Share Gus Lubin
Jun. 18, 2010

Scientists are warning of another way the oil spill could devastate the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem. In addition to toxic oil levels and chemical dispersants, the spill could cause methane poisoning:

(AP) The oil emanating from the seafloor contains about 40 percent methane, compared with about 5 percent found in typical oil deposits, said John Kessler, a Texas A&M University oceanographer who is studying the impact of methane from the spill.

That means huge quantities of methane have entered the Gulf, scientists say, potentially suffocating marine life and creating “dead zones” where oxygen is so depleted that nothing lives.

Marine dead zones are caused when bacteria feed on a chemical, become overpopulated, and deplete the region — permanently — of oxygen. The Gulf of Mexico was already plagued by large dead zones, caused by American fertilizer runoff carried down the Mississippi river.

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