Deepwater Horizon’s Expanding Oil Slick - May 31, 2010

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Nearly six weeks after Deepwater Horizon exploded and the sinking rig (two days post-explosion) broke a pipe (causing uncapped oil to gush from a wellhead nearly 5,000 feet below the surface of the water), the oil slick continues to grow.

NASA describes this satellite photo from May 31, 2010:

Beneath scattered clouds, streaks and ribbons of oil brightened the reflection of the Sun off the Gulf of Mexico in this photo-like satellite image from May 31, 2010. Oil is visible 355 kilometers (221 miles) southwest of the site of the damaged, leaking Deepwater Horizon well, but this oil may be natural oil seeps that have been documented in the Gulf before. The streaks of oil in the southwest corner of the image are on the order of 2 kilometers (1 mile) wide.

Photo-like satellite images are not a perfect tool for detecting oil on the surface of water. Outside of the sunglint area (the part of the satellite image where the mirror-like reflection of the Sun is blurred into a wide, washed out strip by waves), the oil may be imperceptible against the dark background of the water. Scientists and disaster responders in the Gulf are combining photo-like satellite images and aircraft and shipboard observations with weather and ocean current models to predict the spread of oil.

This image of the Gulf of Mexico was captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite on May 31, 2010. Twice-daily images of the Gulf of Mexico are available in a variety of formats and resolutions from the MODIS Rapid Response Project.

Click on the image for a clearer view.


Media Credits

NASA image courtesy the MODIS Rapid Response Team.  Image online, courtesy NASA's Earth Observatory web site.


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"Deepwater Horizon’s Expanding Oil Slick - May 31, 2010" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Oct 20, 2019.
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