reply to post by sweetliberty
as it's getting late here (after midnight already) I'll have to get back to you on those questions, if you haven't already dug up the answers in
the meantime. I can only say that I don't recall any other Commander for this crisis, but that doesn't mean there wasn't one.
I'll have to check back on the other questions as right now I don't recall all of them. Sorry about that...
reply to post by mars1
thank you for your comments. Much appreciated.
I'm not an expert on this stuff by any means; some of what I know I gleaned from a family member
years ago who was working in weapons research. (Electronic warfare.) Only unclassified stuff, though.
However, the question about using any kind of explosives down in the well vicinity is really a matter of two main considerations: the (geological)
stability of the region where explosives might be used, and what might happen if the stability is compromised and hydrocarbons are released.
In other words, will an explosion fracture the sea floor, and if that happens, what next?
First off, there is no way that an explosive device would ignite any methane gas. There's not enough available oxygen. (I say "available" oxygen
because of course there is lots of oxygen down there at the sea floor -- as evidenced by the fish swimming around -- but luckily it's in the water
itself and not available in a form that will allow gas to burn.) So, we're not going to get a gigantic explosion of methane gas.
Well, we wouldn't anyway because the gas at that depth (pressure) and cold temperature is still in its hydrate form and is not even gas.
But some say that even if the gas can't burn/explode at that depth, then it can when it reaches the surface, and that even if it doesn't
"explode" as a fireball, it will be released in such a vast quantity that it will be like
an explosion -- and that
will trigger a
catastrophic tsunami that will race towards land at the speed of sound and wipe out millions of people.
Now, apparently this chain of events is theoretically possible, but in order to know if it's a real risk, we need solid information about how many
cubic miles of gas hydrates would have to be released and then expand to form a huge bubble. Yes, cubic miles
. Anything much less would not
have a huge impact in a body of water the size of the GOM. It might create a tsunami, but not one that would race across the ocean at high speed and
many feet high and engulf hundreds (or thousands) of miles of coastline.
I even have serious doubts about the "speed of sound" tsunami statements anyway. Think of it like this: if you see gas rising in water, how fast
does it rise? Does it travel at several hundred mph? The rate of rise and the volume of displacement are the key factors in determining if there'd be
any significant tsunami. Energy out (tsunami) cannot be greater than energy in.
However, there's the other side of this. If the sea floor were disturbed by an outrush of gas/hydrates (and oil), it could lead to a collapse in that
region, which would be effectively like a subduction effect. Rising gas does not have quite the same effects as a large chunk of subsea real estate
being subducted (as happened off the coast from Banda Aceh and more recently off Chile). There could
be a significant tsunami from a collapse
of the sea floor, but it would need to be a massive collapse and very sudden. If the collapse is not massive or is relatively slow (even over a few
hours), then any tsunami will be far less than that caused by a very rapid collapse.
It's like the difference between slowly lowering yourself into a bathtub full of water or slipping and falling in: the amount of water you displace
is about the the same, but the sudden
displacement causes a far more violent effect on the water, because there is more energy of motion that
can be converted to make the big splash.
We've all seen the documentaries about large objects impacting the earth and wiping out dinos, etc etc. Now, if you take a rock half a mile across
and slowly lower it into the ocean, nobody over the horizon would even notice, because the displacement of the water happens slowly. But send that
rock into the water from space at several thousand mph and you get the mother of all tsunamis, because there is a huge amount of kinetic energy
The same goes for an ocean floor collapse.If it's slow, then the sea just sort of fills in the space and we'd likely be none the wiser. Well, at
least we'd have nothing much to worry about from a tsunami. But if it collapses in a big hurry then that's a big worry.
All I'm trying to say is that there are so many factors here that we can't just say "this
will happen and then this
, and then
..." It simply doesn't work that way, so when we see websites that proclaim the "order of events" as if they're a given I can only say
that they are not
a given. To make such statements with any certainty we need to have a lot of very specific data and we don't have it. We
don't know how unstable the sea floor is there, we don't know how much gas/hydrates might be lurking just below the surface or in cracks and
fissures from lower down, we don't know the true volume of any gas/hydrate pocket or reservoir, we don't know how fast if would be released (or how
much of it would be released), and we don't even know over what area of sea floor such a release might occur.
But we do
know this: common sense -- a valuable commodity -- says you don't let little kids play with matches. Not because you know what
happen, but because you know what might
happen could be even worse than what you ever imagined was possible.
I think that using explosive charges in an area with poorly-contained hydrocarbons of unknown but large quantities under very high pressure, in an
area with uncertain geological stability, is like letting kids go and play with matches in a tinder-dry forest on a hot day -- when there could be
tornadoes heading that way.
[edit on 14/7/10 by JustMike]