BP / Gulf Oil Spill – July 4th Weekend

With oil continuing to billow into the Gulf of Mexico from BP’s failed Macondo well, the holiday weekend brought little cause for celebration, and no break for the folks working hard to clean up the oil coming ashore and to plug the leaking well. Oil was reported for the first time in Lake Pontchartrain, and the discovery of tar balls on some Texas beaches means this spill is now directly impacting all of the Gulf states.

A RADARSAT-2 satellite image taken July 2 shows oil slick and sheen still spread across a large area of the Gulf in the wake of Hurricane Alex, which brought large waves and strong gusty winds to the area last week:

RADARSAT-2 satellite image taken July 2, 2010. Image courtesy of CSTARS.

MODIS satellite images acquired on July 3 and July 4, while impaired once again by clouds, showed portions of the oil slick in a few areas. The July 3 image shows patches of slick along the Louisiana coast reaching west beyond Vermilion Bay:

MODIS/Aqua satellite image acquired on July 3

It also shows a neat little circular pattern formed by a cluster of natural oil and gas seeps; the small slicks that form at the ocean surface above these deepwater seeps appear to be caught up in a clockwise gyre (a rotating surface current).See all the images in our Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill gallery.

3 replies
  1. environmentalist says:

    John, I got to wondering yesterday…what happens if there is another spill in another location (Alaska, Mexico, etc) while this is still going on? Its my understanding that nearly all of the available clean up equipment is in the GOM working on the BP mess. So, what if something else goes wrong? It seems to me that ALL exploration and production should be shut down (I DO know how unrealistic that would be) until the BP disaster is fixed since we clearly dont have enough equipment to deal with other fossil fuel disasters. Thanks! Jim OD

  2. John says:

    Jim O'D – that's a great question. As you acknowledge, shutting down established offshore production is a non-starter; it would cause an economic calamity to rival the environmental one we're dealing with. But putting a hold on new offshore drilling until we 1) get the BP mess fixed, and 2) troubleshoot and correct the obvious failures of technology and decisionmaking, seems like it would be prudent since our response capability is essentially "all in" on the BP spill.

    The President tried to put a 6-month moratorium on new deepwater drilling in the Gulf, a move that would affect about 33 mobile drilling rigs but wouldn't touch the existing oil and gas production in the Gulf coming from nearly 4,000 offshore platforms and other fixed structures. But a federal judge overturned that moratorium; the administration is appealing the judge's decision.

  3. Nathan says:

    John — you have a great blog here that provides a lot of information regarding the oil spill. We have a blog that takes a critical look at the oil spill and the events surrounding it. We have provided a link to your site on ours and would appreciate it if you would backlink to us. Feel free to check out our site:


    Thanks — Nathan

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