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On April 20, 2010, an explosion at the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico killed 11 workers and unleashed the largest accidental marine oil spill in history.

Soon after the accident, WHOI administrators and investigators were among those called by BP and the federal government for advice and assistance. What technologies might be used to determine why the blowout preventer failed? How much oil was flowing from the wellhead nearly a mile deep? Where was the oil going? And how would it affect fragile Gulf ecosystems?

WHOI personnel quickly marshaled their resources. They had two clear strengths: a wealth of knowledge about oil in the marine environment, and a long history of working in the deep ocean.

Even before the flow of oil stopped, it was clear the Institution had far more to offer. The scientists and engineers, steeped in a collaborative, can-do research environment, were well positioned to find creative solutions to difficult problems. Some expanded existing lines of inquiry; others applied tools and techniques in ways they hadn’t anticipated before the spill. Science in a Time of Crisis highlights a few of their stories. Chapter 1 »