Scientists investigating the fate of the oil and natural gas that spewed into the Gulf of Mexico during last year’s BP spill established quickly that bacteria had consumed much of the propane and ethane that leaked from the well. Now they have found that bacteria also made short order of the most
abundant hydrocarbon released during the spill ? methane ? probably
consuming most of the 200,000 tons the well ejected within 120 days of
the onset of the leak from the ruptured well, according to research
published Thursday in the journal Science. The discovery was a surprise, said David Valentine, a professor of microbial geochemistry at UC Santa Barbara and a member of the research team.

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