Oil Transport Following the Deepwater Horizon Blowout

Michel C. Boufadel, Tamay Özgökmen, Scott A. Socolofsky, Vassiliki H. Kourafalou, Ruixue Liu, Kenneth Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 was the largest in US history, covering more than 1,000 km of shorelines and causing losses that exceeded $50 billion. While oil transformation processes are understood at the laboratory scale, the extent of the Deepwater Horizon spill made it challenging to integrate these processes in the field. This review tracks the Deepwater Horizon oil during its journey from the Mississippi Canyon block 252 (MC252) wellhead, first discussing the formation of the oil and gas plume and the ensuing oil droplet size distribution, then focusing on the behavior of the oil on the water surface with and without waves. It then reports on massive drifter experiments in the Gulf of Mexico and the impact of the Mississippi River on the oil transport. Finally, it concludes by addressing the formation of oil-particle aggregates. Although physical processes lend themselves to numerical modeling, we attempted to elucidate them without using advanced modeling, as our goal is to enhance communication among scientists, engineers, and other entities interested in oil spills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)67-93
Number of pages27
JournalAnnual Review of Marine Science
StatePublished - Jan 16 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography


  • Oil spreading
  • dispersion
  • droplet formation
  • eddy diffusivity


Dive into the research topics of 'Oil Transport Following the Deepwater Horizon Blowout'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this