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Natural Hydrocarbon Seepage in the Gulf of Mexico
Richard A. Geyer (1), William M. Sweet, Jr. (1)
The Department of Oceanography at Texas A&M University has been studying natural hydrocarbon seeps in the Gulf of Mexico for several years in cooperation with 14 oil companies and the Sea Grant program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Archaeological reports indicate that the Karankawa Indians used tar in their pottery making in pre-Columbian times; and survivors of DeSoto's group used tar found along the Texas-Louisiana coast to caulk their boats.
From 1902-1909 heavy oil slicks were noted in an area about 100 miles south of the Louisiana coast and the locations plotted on charts issued by the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. Oil spouting into the air was reported in the same area in 1909, as well as oil ponds off the Sabine Pass area.
Reports of seeps in the Gulf of Mexico are numerous, and the Department's study has located several general areas of seepage within and around the Gulf. Tar samples from these areas have been collected and analyzed chemically, as well as samples found floating in the Gulf.
The seep sites have been studied geologically and geophysically, and pertinent chemical, biological, and physical oceanographic characteristics have been determined.
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