2012 September 14, Friday
Gulf of Mexico, 50-150 miles southeast of New Orleans, LA
he R/V Endeavor (a UNOLS vessel operated by the University of Rhode Island) has been busy in the Gulf off of Louisiana again, studying natural and not-so-natural oil seeps and the status of the ocean floor. They contacted us a few days ago to advise us that they found themselves sitting in a surface oil slick, in the vicinity of the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) "spill" site of April 2010. Today was the first day we could arrange to fly out there, and yes, we did indeed find oil slicks in that good old MC252 quadrant. We hope to learn from their samples whether the surface oil there is from long-existing natural seeps, or whether it is from the reservoir that unleashed its contents just 2.5 years ago.
Here are the maps of today's 3.9-hour flight. We flew to the DWH site via Breton Sound, to check out some suspiciously slick-looking areas according to MODIS satellite data. We didn't stop to look around carefully, but we didn't see any obvious surface oil in this area. But what was unusual was how high the water seemed to be. The usual islands were scarcely visible. Fortunately, we had heard that the tides were unusually high today, so we were relieved not to have to think that this situation was some permanent consequence of Hurricane Isaac...
On reaching the DWH site, we immediately saw two surface oil slicks, separated from each other by about a mile. The first one was about a third of a mile long and about 100 meters wide, the other a bit smaller. The water was choppy, and it was difficult to get good footage of the slicks from the air. We also saw another slick a bit northwest of here on our way back. Here are a few still photos of those slicks.
See the photos and videos and read the article here!