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Circulation & Transport

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One of the key questions in any accidental or natural release of oil into the ocean is: Where will it go? WHOI scientists have amassed a detailed understanding of currents and can monitor or model surface and deep-sea movement of oil in the ocean over time and at a range of physical scales.

Chief Scientist, Rich Camilli, a WHOI environmental engineer, and co-principal investigator Chris Reddy, a WHOI marine chemist and oil spill expert, aboard the research vessel Endeavor in June 2010 in the Gulf of Mexico. Mapping and Characterizing an Underwater Plume
Deepwater Horizon, 2010
Principal Investigator: Rich Camilli
WHOI scientists deployed the autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) Sentry equipped with a compact, underwater mass spectrometer to identify and map the chemical plume spreading from the blown-out oil well. The techniques they used were developed at WHOI to find hydrothermal vents and underwater volcanoes.

Spry glider Mapping Gulf Currents
Deepwater Horizon, 2010
Principal Investigator: Breck Owens
In the weeks after the Gulf oil spill started, WHOI scientists and their colleagues deployed an autonomous underwater vehicle called a Spray glider to map currents in the Gulf of Mexico from June to August. These measurements helped predict the spread of the oil at and beneath the surface and to alleviate fears that the oil would spread far beyond the Gulf.

Calculating Flow Rate Calculating Flow Rate
Deepwater Horizon, 2010
Principal Investigators: Rich Camilli, Andy Bowen
In the early weeks after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drill rig, estimates of how much oil was pouring into the Gulf varied widely. A reliable figure was crucial to helping everyone involved in battling the spill understand what they were up against.

Last updated: July 28, 2014

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