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Gulf surface cleaner, but oil lurks far below

August 18, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Researchers say a lot of crude is lurking deep below the Gulf's surface and oil may be settling in an undersea canyon.Scientists at the University of South Florida found evidence that microscopic amounts of oil is mixing into the soil of a critical undersea canyon off the Florida Panhandle. Researchers also found poisoned plant plankton which they blamed on a toxic brew of oil and dispersants.

The findings are preliminary and have yet to be reviewed by other scientists. Also, it hasn't been confirmed it is BP's oil researchers found.

Scientists who were not involved in the research said they're uncomfortable drawing conclusions based on such a brief look at the situation.

These new findings follow a report from Georgia researchers released on Monday that said as much as 80 percent of the oil from the massive spill remains in the Gulf. Both groups' research findings have already been incorporated into lawsuits filed against BP.

The findings from both groups depict a much darker scenario than that of government officials, who said just two weeks ago that most of the oil had been dissolved, dispersed or have been removed, leaving a little more than a quarter of the amount that spewed from the well that exploded in April.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.