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Measuring the Oil Flow Rate


WHOI scientists installed two acoustic instruments aboard a remotely operated vehicle: an acoustic Doppler current profiler and an imaging multibeam sonar. The instruments provided a detailed view of the cross sectional area and the velocity of the gushing jet of oil and gas. Multiply these average areas by their average velocities and you get a good estimate of the rate of oil and gas released. Next the scientists needed a pristine sample directly from the broken drill pipe to analyze and determine what fraction of the fluids were oil versus natural gas. To collect the well fluid, WHOI scientists used an isobaric gas-tight sampler, or IGT, a deep-sea device developed at WHOI to sample hydrothermal vent fluids. The IGT's snorkel "sipped" the crucial sample.
 (Animation by Jack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)