Simulation of the landfall of the deepwater horizon oil on the shorelines of the Gulf of Mexico

Michel C. Boufadel, Ali Abdollahi-Nasab, Xiaolong Geng, Jerry Galt, Jagadish Torlapati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations

Abstract

We conducted simulations of oil transport from the footprint of the Macondo Well on the water surface throughout the Gulf of Mexico, including deposition on the shorelines. We used the U.S. National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) model General NOAA Operational Modeling Environment (GNOME) and the same parameter values and input adopted by NOAA following the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) blowout. We found that the disappearance rate of oil off the water surface was most likely around 20% per day based on satellite-based observations of the disappearance rate of oil detected on the sea surface after the DWH wellhead was capped. The simulations and oil mass estimates suggest that the mass of oil that reached the shorelines was between 10 000 and 30 000 tons, with an expected value of 22 000 tons. More than 90% of the oil deposition occurred on the Louisiana shorelines, and it occurred in two batches. Simulations revealed that capping the well after 2 weeks would have resulted in only 30% of the total oil depositing on the shorelines, while capping after 3 weeks would have resulted in 60% deposition. Additional delay in capping after 3 weeks would have averted little additional shoreline oiling over the ensuing 4 weeks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9496-9505
Number of pages10
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Volume48
Issue number16
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 19 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Environmental Chemistry

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