BP / Gulf Oil Spill – June 7 and June 9, 2010

Playing some catch-up from Capital Hill Ocean Week. We served on a panel yesterday and gave a presentation on the spill (starting at 36:10 in this video). Thanks for your patience, we’re stretched pretty thin!

Here are MODIS/Terra satellite images of the Gulf from June 7 and June 9. The image taken June 7 shows slick and sheen across an area of 9,075 square miles (23,504 km 2). A large dark area west of the slick may be a low-wind area within the generally bright belt of sunglint west of the Mississippi Delta. There may be slicks or sheen obscured by this low-wind region:

MODIS/Terra satellite image taken June 7, 2010

Compare this with the MODIS/Terra taken on June 9, which has a broad sunglint pattern centered on the eastern Gulf that effectively illuminates the main oil slick as well as areas of what we interpret as much thinner sheen. The bright band of sunglint spanning this image reveals fine structure (squiggly bright lines) in areas to the north, south and west of what we interpret as the main area of oil slick; this structure can be caused by natural surfactants, or it may indicate very thin layers of residual sheen related to the ongoing spill. Lots of judgment calls made when encircling the area of slicks and sheen (orange line), but we come up with a total area of 16,434 square miles (42,565 km2):

MODIS/Terra satellite image taken June 9, 2010

We don’t think the actual area of ocean affected by slicks and sheen nearly doubled in just two days; instead, we think the MODIS image from June 9 was just much more effective at showing those areas than many of the images we’ve been collecting throughout this incident. And it is possible that some of the area we’ve delineated contains natural surfactant rather than spilled oil. Again, a difficult image to interpret in some areas.

6 replies
  1. msavage12 says:

    The crude oil is toxic!! Workers cleaning the oily Gulf beaches need to know the danger. Don't become BP's Collateral Damaged, like Exxon’s Collateral Damaged.


    My name is Merle Savage, a female general foreman during the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) beach cleanup in 1989. I am one of the 11,000+ cleanup workers from the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS), who is suffering from health issues from that toxic cleanup, without compensation from Exxon.

    Dr. Riki Ott visited me in 2007 to explain about the toxic spraying on the beaches. She also informed me that Exxon's medical records and the reports that surfaced in litigation by sick workers in 1994, had been sealed from the public, making it impossible to hold Exxon responsible for their actions.

    Exxon developed the toxic spraying; OSHA, the Coast Guard, and the state of Alaska authorized the procedure. Beach crews breathed in crude oil that splashed off the rocks and into the air — the toxic exposure turned into chronic breathing conditions and central nervous system problems, neurological impairment, chronic respiratory disease, leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, liver damage, and blood disease.

    My web site is devoted to searching for EVOS cleanup workers who were exposed to the toxic spraying, and are suffering from the same illnesses that I have. There is an on going Longshoreman’s claim for workers with medical problems from the oil cleanup. Our summer employment turned into a death sentence for many — and a life of unending medical conditions for the rest of Exxon’s Collateral Damaged.

  2. Selena Insider says:

    This is horrible. The animals as they get covered in oil, are dieing. I feeel like I could do something- but I know I can't. Well, there is some things some of you can do. If you have long hair- go to a hairdressers and you can get it cut for the oil spill. They take the scraps of your hair and it soaks up the oil which prevents sokm from leaking out everywhere. I know it will hardly help- but if you get friends to do it to- it will make a big difference.

  3. John says:

    Selena – it is very bad. I think I read that the Coast Guard is not using hair-filled booms. But there is something everyone can do to help reduce the chances of another big spill like this: use less oil and gas.

    Merle – thanks for pointing out this important information. After what you've already been through with EVOS, I'm sorry you have to see yet another big oil spill on our shores.

  4. Dragonfly says:

    thank you for all you are doing to shine the light of truth on this disaster. I live on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We have oil on Pensacola Beach, and my relatives who fished in the Gulf yesterday say there is a sheet of oil about 2 miles off the coast (as of yesterday).

    I wish I knew how to pressure our government and BP to use the oil-consuming microbes to save our habitat and our economy, so dependent on tourism and fishing.

  5. Sarisa says:

    Thank you for all the work you are doing. This site has been my primary source of information concerning the spill since I discovered you 4 weeks ago. I continue to be dumbfounded with how the media and government take BP statements as facts with no further investigation.

  6. John says:

    Sarisa – thanks for the encouragement. It helps keep us going.

    Dragonfly – I hope that oil stays offshore and they can clean up your beach quickly. Consider submitting a report with a few photos on our Gulf Oil Spill Tracker site – if you've got an iPhone, try our free iPhone app for submitting reports. We're building a record of impacts of this spill around the Gulf region.

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