22-Mile-Long Underwater Oil Plume Found in Gulf of Mexico

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill formed an underwater plume of hydrocarbons the size of Manhattan, scientists said Thursday, raising fears of a lingering cloud of trace chemicals in the Gulf with an unknown long-term impact.

The new findings from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution add to evidence from other research groups this week that the offshore spill—the largest in history—is confounding scientists' assumptions about how the Gulf waters are interacting with the mass of oil.

Scientists have mapped out, for the first time, the underwater path that some petrochemicals took after gushing from BP's oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. It's an important new piece in a huge scientific puzzle.

Researchers are trying to figure out where as much as half of the spilled oil has gone.

BP announced that it would delay popping the final plug into the well until at least mid-September, in part because of weather conditions, and in part so the blowout preventer could be repaired first, in case something goes wrong.