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Oil Spills


Deepwater Horizon – major findings and technological advances

Ten years ago, a powerful explosion destroyed an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and injuring 17 others. Over a span of 87 days, the Deepwater Horizon well released an estimated 168 million gallons of oil and 45 million gallons of natural gas into the ocean, making it the largest accidental marine oil spill in history.

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What did scientists learn from Deepwater Horizon?

Ten years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion caused the largest accidental marine oil spill in history, WHOI marine geochemists Elizabeth Kujawinski and Christopher Reddy review what they— and their science colleagues from around the world—have learned.

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30 years later, traces of an oil spill persist

In 2018, researchers from WHOI and their collaborators from Haverford College collected oil samples from the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill deposited on the shores of McClure Bay in Prince William Sound, Alaska.

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Rapid Response at Sea

As sea ice continues to melt in the Arctic and oil exploration expands in the region, the possibility of an oil spill occurring under ice is higher than ever. To help first responders cope with oil trapped under ice, ocean engineers are developing undersea vehicles that can map oil spills to improve situational awareness and decision making during an emergency.

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Rapid Response at Sea

As sea ice continues to melt in the Arctic and oil exploration expands in the region, the possibility of an oil spill occurring under ice is higher than ever. To help first responders cope with oil trapped under ice, ocean engineers are developing undersea vehicles that can map oil spills to improve situational awareness and decision making during an emergency.

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Oil Spills

Oil in the Ocean The systematic study of oil in the ocean is relatively new to science, but since the…

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Sunlight Reduces Effectiveness of Dispersants Used in Oil Spills

Sunlight Reduces Effectiveness of Dispersants Used in Oil Spills

A research team led by Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) found that sunlight chemically alters crude oil floating on the sea surface within hours or days. In a follow-up study the team reported that sunlight changes oil into different compounds that dispersants cannot easily break up. The results of these two studies could affect how responders decide when, where, and how to use dispersants.

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To Track an Oil Spill

To Track an Oil Spill

WHOI scientists are helping to develop a robotic underwater vehicle that can track oil spills and help responders mitigate damage in remote or ice-covered areas such as the Arctic Ocean and the Great Lakes.

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