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Deepwater Horizon Disaster

Satellite based Habitat Impact Assessment of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Geographical and temporal impact assessment of the oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon BP plaform (the so called Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill) on coastal and marine habitats in the Gulf of Mexico.

Deepwater Horizon Disaster
Satellite based Habitat Impact Assessment of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill
DUE (Data User Element)
Feasibility Study

On April 20, 2010, catastrophe struck the Gulf of Mexico with the explosion and sinking of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig, which killed 11 crew members and left the drilling hole open. Crude oil had been expelled, polluting the marine and onshore environment, destroying many habitats of large natural and economic value throughout the Gulf of Mexico.

The dynamic nature of the BP oil spill due to the changing marine environment was a huge
challenge for management authorities, institutions involved in habitat protection as well as a
range of communities – from hotel operators to fishermen to local community leaders.

The project aimed at producing a standardized documentation in map and statistical forms, featuring the following:

  • weekly maps documenting and depicting the water surface extent of the oil spill and identifying site impacts of critical terrestrial and marine habitats of natural and economic value;
  • summary statistics and graphs quantifying area and sequences of impact per habitat sector;
  • one high resolution assessment for a "hotspot" impact area.

The geographic and temporal focus was the north-eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico
(GOM), including Florida and Cuba, for the time period of the start of the accident (20th of
April) until 30th of September. The impact assessment made use of radar and optical data from ENVISAT (principally ASAR and MERIS)

The project has been the subject of an article in the WallStreet Journal, "Scientist Battle over Bluefin Tuna".

DeepWater Final Report
ESA Geoville Final Report
Project Brochure
GeoVille Information Systems GmbH, Austria
The Ocean Foundation
Christian Hoffmann
Managing Director
GeoVille Information Systems GmbH
Sparkassenplatz 2, 3rd floor
A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria
Tel: ++43-(0)512-562021-18
Fax: ++43-(0)512-562021-22
Marc Paganini
European Space Agency - ESRIN D/EOP-SEP
Via Galileo Galilei
I-00046 Frascati (RM)
Tel: +39 06-941.80563
Fax: +39 06-941.80552