BP / Gulf Oil Spill – 68,000 Square Miles of Direct Impact

Fingers crossed: it looks like the cap on BP’s Macondo well will hold until the relief well intercepts and permanently plugs it, and no more oil from this blowout will enter the Gulf.

So here’s a map showing the cumulative oil slick footprint for the BP / Deepwater Horizon oil spill, created by overlaying all of the oil slicks and sheen mapped by SkyTruth on satellite images taken between April 25 and July 16, 2010, blogged here, and published in our gallery.

Cumulatively, the surface oil slicks and sheen observed on these satellite images directly impacted 68,000 square miles of ocean – as big as the state of Oklahoma:

Map showing cumulative oil slick footprint from BP / Deepwater Horizon oil spill, based on satellite images taken between April 25 and July 16, 2010
9 replies
  1. John says:

    Whoa – nobody here is even suggesting that everything is A-OK. We do have to be honest: the surface oil slicks appear to be disapppearing, based on satellite images taken over the past several days.

    BUT – in talking to the reporter I emphasized the unknowns and unseens: impact to marshes and beaches from now-buried and embedded oil; impact from plumes of oil still lurking beneath the surface; long-term impacts from this massive spill. The article raises those issues:

    "The effect on sea life of the large amounts of oil that dissolved below the surface is still a mystery. Two preliminary government reports on that issue have found concentrations of toxic compounds in the deep sea to be low, but the reports left many questions, especially regarding an apparent decline in oxygen levels in the water.

    And understanding the effects of the spill on the shorelines that were hit, including Louisiana’s coastal marshes, is expected to occupy scientists for years. Fishermen along the coast are deeply skeptical of any declarations of success, expressing concern about the long-term effects of the chemical dispersants used to combat the spill and of the submerged oil, particularly on shrimp and crab larvae that are the foundation of future fishing seasons."

  2. Robert says:

    Of course the oil is disappearing. Oil naturally decomposes in about three weeks in seawater. A good part goes into the air. A lot breaks into small heavy droplets and sinks, and some turns into tar balls. However, what few are saying is that oil decomposes into secondary products; many of which are more hazardous than the oil itself. These secondary products can cause long term effects some of which can be uncorrectable. So, yes the oil is gone, but the problem is still there! That is why it is always better to mop up the oil rather than disperse it as BP just did.

  3. John says:

    Pressed Rat / Warthog – sure, once it's been oxidized (burned or metabolized), but this is a serious oversimplification. There is a long way, chemically speaking, between "now" and "eventually." This transformation of hydrocarbon doesn't happen instantly unless you light it on fire.

    Crude oil is also a complex mixture of many different types of hydrocarbon, each with its own set of properties, including toxicity and metabolic pathway.

  4. Ryan Harris says:

    Hey John just ran in to your site because of a school project. I like the site. I would like to ask permission to use the imagery you have above in my project. Is that ok? Thanks.

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