First Independent Study To Measure Oil In Gulf

Timothy Crone, Lamont-Doherty Earth ObservatoryThe scientists say their study is just a start. Other researchers have been trying to get at the same question using separate visual and acoustic techniques. Crone and Tolstoy say their conclusions rest on just a few short clips of high-resolution video?almost all that has been released by BP and the government so far, and made available by members of Congress to the scientists. (A live publicly accessible webcam showing the leak as it continued week after week had extremely low resolution, insufficient for analysis.) The researchers point out that the flows could have varied day to day. And, the analysis did not include video of several other leaks from smaller holes further up the pipe, which are thought to have grown with time; thus, the true figures may be larger, if anything, said Crone. "We clearly acknowledge the limits of our technique; we're unlikely to ever know the exact figure," he said. Tolstoy added: "This is not the last word. It is the first peer-reviewed word. But we think it's a really good ballpark."


The researchers said they hope they and others will be able to refine their estimates if the government and BP release more video and other information to independent researchers. Ian MacDonald, a Florida State University oceanographer who has also studied the leak, but was not involved in the study, said: "This is a welcome paper in that it opens the door onto how the oil spill flow-rate estimates have been calculated. It provides a transparency of method and a foundation for peer review for what has until now been a confusing and uncertain process."

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