This is a graphic of the near shore oil spread, just for today. Most people are aware there is now a second plume of oil. A plume is not a leak, although it could imply one, more a plume describes the shape and character of spilled oil.
This newly discovered oil plume is 22 miles long, 6 miles wide and 3300 feet deep. In other words, the oil on the surface, goes all the way down to over half a mile. The thickest area of the goo is at 1300 feet. It is drifting towards Mobile Alabama like the 1950's horror film, The Blob, but this horror show is real.
A team of scientists, including Purdue Prof Steve Wereley, are estimating 4 million gallons of oil per day are gushing into the gulf. This means 120 million gallons of oil are already spilled. There are other estimates as well, now proving this is already the 2nd worst oil disaster in history. Only Kuwait, in 1991, where 520 million gallons of oil where spilled (on purpose), is larger. The Valdaz oil disaster was 10 million gallons.
Below is a short video clip in a controlled environment to show how oil plumes form. As you can see while they often are visible at the surface, they can actually go quite deep into the water.
NASA has been using satellites to track the spread of the oil. The below video clip is the latest satellite images in a composite video clip, complete with music so contradictory you'll feel like you're being feed Soylent green.
BP currently states that the top kill will take an estimated 48 more hours.
Below is a May 1st video explaining what happened originally.
Which leads to answering this question on whether there is a hidden, second leak. Oil expert Matt Simmons theorizes there is a second leak 5 or 6 miles away from the ones being worked on.
Now from the new spill rate estimates, it appears scientists are taking into account the real leaks, for that is massive and can account for these plumes. Hence, we're seeing much contradictory information. That said, it's pretty clear experts are operating on incomplete data and yes BP is still running this show. In the video clip it is suggested to use super tankers to suck up the oil There is a problem with supertankers being so outrageously huge, but note they talk about tankers, which are of a much smaller size and could be maneuvered.
Estimates for the relief wells are ranging to be completed sometime in August. By that time the plume trajectories go all out to the Atlantic. Taking the Purdue University Professor's spill rate estimates, that would be 60 days at minimum times 4 million gallons, which is 240 million additional gallons of oil. A whopping total of 360 million gallons. Take the amount already spilled, double it and add it to the size of the above plume maps. Doomsday scenario.
A Scientist, out in the gulf, is writing a blog with some updates.
We now have widgets and servers to monitor the oil leaks live. Folks are pouring over these videos, looking for any sign something is working. Don't stare too long, you'll start to see the devil.
Consider this post another oil open thread.