Meridian Star

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July 29, 2013

Scientists collect water near site of blown well

(Continued)

Northern Gulf of Mexico —

"People don't seem to get excited about natural gas the way they do about oil, because you can't see it, you can't smell it, and it doesn't wash up all over your beaches," he said. "But it's a very potent gas."

BSEE and the Coast Guard are investigating the blowout.

Authorities believe sand and sediment clogged the well late Wednesday, shutting off the gas flow.

Scientists were focusing on surface water since methane and hydrocarbons are less dense and rise to the surface.

While the BP blowout happened in deep waters, the Hercules well leak provided an opportunity to study hydrocarbon transport in shallower waters, said Nathan Laxague, a researcher with the University of Miami.

"They may wash ashore in a matter of days or be taken out to sea depending on these shallow water air-sea dynamics," he said.

Saturday's research was funded through the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative launched with roughly $112 million pledged by BP after the 2010 oil spill for the study of the effect of oil and gas on the gulf's ecosystem.

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