David Biello writes, in Scientific American, about “The Enduring Mystery of the Missing Oil Spilt in the Gulf of Mexico” — a detective story whose beginnings were told in an Ig Nobel Prize-winning study:
Workers uncovered a tar mat weighing some 18,000 kilograms just offshore of a natural barrier island in Louisiana in the summer of 2013. Although the tar mat turned out to bear more sand than oil, it represented another small fraction of the hydrocarbons that went missing after BP’s blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The sum of all the dispersed oil located thus far, from tar mats to oily marine snow, hardly accounts for at least four million barrels of oil spewed into the cold, dark bottom of the Gulf of Mexico from the deep-sea well named Macondo five years ago. Like any good mystery, this one may never be solved….
The 2010 Ig Nobel Prize for chemistry was awarded to Eric Adams [pictured here] of MIT, Scott Socolofsky of Texas A&M University, Stephen Masutani of the University of Hawaii, and BP [British Petroleum], for disproving the old belief that oil and water don’t mix. [REFERENCE: “Review of Deep Oil Spill Modeling Activity Supported by the Deep Spill JIP and Offshore Operator’s Committee. Final Report,” Eric Adams and Scott Socolofsky, 2005.]