Originally posted by cosmicpixie
Can anyone answer these...
When the BOP topples how likely is in in % terms that the sea bed will collpase around the area and how many square miles of collapse are likely ?
If the sea floor collapses is it pretty certain a tsunami will occur ?
If the sea bed collapses and no tsunami then BP can still be out there on the gulf with it's various ships collecting as much oil as they can/burning
the rest off etc...?
Quoting your whole post as you've asked some good stuff. I'll just offer my opinions, which might be well off the mark. But right now, opinions are
about all we have.
I don't think anyone can reasonably give a % estimate on the likelihood of a large collapse within a given time. This is basically "uncharted
waters" and we'll likely find out if/when it happens.
To your second point, a tsunami of some size could only be triggered if the collapse is relatively rapid and the amount of water displaced totals
several cubic miles. A more gradual collapse will allow water to move in and occupy the space without any appreciable effect further afield.
To your third point, ships at sea generally ride out tsunamis quite well. They are far less affected by tsunamis when in deep water than vessels in
shallower areas close to land, especially if there is a shelving ocean floor in the latter case that progressively increases wave size as it
However, a tsunami is not the only consideration here. The other factor is that we know there are apparently vast amounts of methane hydrate beneath
that sea floor, which while under pressure remain in crystalline form. But if the floor collapses and this material is then released, as it rises and
encounters lower pressures and also warmer water, it becomes methane gas.
The ratio of expansion from methane hydrate to methane gas is around 1:160, which means that huge quantities of gas could rise to the surface. If the
quantities are large enough, this gas could reduce the effective buoyancy beneath any surface vessels to such an extent that they'd literally sink
like stones. In other words, if the sea bed's integrity is severely compromised -- a fancy way of saying if it cracks open or collapses -- then the
sudden release of millions of cubic metres of methane hydrate, rapidly becoming gas, could result in the loss of most (if not all) larger surface
vessels in the area.
From the point of view of potential loss of life (and assets), this is a far bigger concern for them than a sudden release of larger volumes of
For this reason (which those in that area are well aware of), they are keeping a very close eye on the BOP, the sea floor, and levels of escaping oil
and methane hydrate from any and all sources they're able to monitor, whether we know about them or not.
So, if we see the ROV's all shut down at around the same time (meaning they are probably pulling them out fast) and then (maybe) get reports that all
ships are leaving the area, that's our sign that they suspect a possible major failure either around the well or elsewhere in the sea bed.
If this scenario comes to pass, then there is no way to move ships back into the area as long as huge amounts of gas are escaping. They simply can't,
because their ships could simply go under with only a few seconds' warning.
And that would be the end of any "relief well" program.
At this point the situation would be totally out of control. There would be no way on earth to stop it. Even if they could find a way to get
explosives down there it would only make things worse, as they'd likely set off Lord only knows how much methane (and volatile oil components) in one
I'm not saying any of this is likely, but the "gas/loss of ships" scenario is certainly possible and they know it.
I wouldn't want to be out there on one of those ships right now. I take my hat off to the brave and worried souls who are
there and doing
their best to alleviate this disaster, this horrendous catastrophe that was effectively created by "higher ups" -- who undoubtedly are not
there right now.
[edit on 21/6/10 by JustMike]