Nature.com is reporting, "A previously unidentified plume of hydrocarbons approximately 200 meters deep has been discovered by scientists on the R/V Cape Hatteras. The new plume appears to run south and east of the Deepwater Horizon site."
On September 9, "The R/V Oceanus... reported lower beam transmission, a data signal indicative of increased methane levels and the presence of hydrocarbons, between 200 and 300 meters. The Hatteras steamed more than 10 hours back to where these readings were taken, in the vicinity of the well site, to investigate further."
The report noted, "Data collected by the Hatteras all day on 10 September along a transect some 40 nautical miles long, provided strong evidence of a new, shallower plume. Those data include real-time high beam attenuation measurements... and elevated levels of methane in lab tests of water samples," according to Tracy A. Villareal, professor at the University of Texas' Marine Science Institute.
"Antje Vossmeyer, a scientist with the University of Georgia, Athens, working on board the Hatteras, reports measuring consistently elevated methane on the order of as much as 100 times background levels along this transect," it continued.
"By end of the day on Friday, the Hatteras had completed the [40 nautical mile] transect, which ran south and east of the well," the report said, "The final station on Friday recorded smaller anomalies, indicating that the eastern edge of the plume might be near. On Saturday 11 September, the ship ran a transect northward, on the east side of the well, hoping to locate the northern edge of the plume."
The post on the Nature.com website made sure to distinguish this plume from others previously reported, "While some earlier models indicated a plume to the southeast of the well, the model placed it at much great depths."
"This is not the plume shown on the model," said Villareal in the article, "This is an entirely new one."
A posting on the lab whiteboard read "We are documenting a new hydrocarbon plume," according to the report.
Read the report here: Oil spill science: Shallower plume found at Deepwater Horizon site, Nature.com (The Great Beyond), September 12, 2010.