Gulf surface cleaner, but oil lurks far below

WASHINGTON 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.

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