Sand Buries Oil But Not Its Effects

Hurricane Alex not only created rough waters around the Gulf of Mexico, it pushed a lot of sand around, burying spilled oil.

An article on the National Geographic website says a team of coastal geologists from the University of South Florida has found oil patties and tarballs as deep as 2 feet beneath beaches on the Gulf, the deepest yet.

According to the article, “Because the buried oil is both harder to clean and slower to break down, it could be a long-lasting threat to beachgoers, both animal and human, experts say.” Unlike exposed oil, which would tend to disappear or break down quickly from oxygen, sunlight and oil-eating microbes, oil buried under sand will persist much longer.

Ping Wang, who leads the team of geologists, said that a bigger and closer storm through the Gulf could erode beaches and unleash the oil under the sand.

To read the National Geographic article, click here: