2010 Gulf oil spill

2010 picture of a shoreline in Bay Jimmy, Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana, influenced by the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Oil weakens and eliminates plant life, leading to the loss of origins that help hold earth together.

Credit: Bruce A. Davis, Department of Homeland Security

Remarkable, widespread shoreline reduction is revealed in brand-new NASA/U.S. Geological research annual maps of Louisiana marshlands where shoreline was most greatly coated with oil through the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the gulf coast of florida.

After the spill, the size of shoreline that receded above 13 legs (4 meters) per year quadrupled when compared to 12 months before the spill. The land losses took place primarily in areas where oil had cleaned ashore through the spill.

A research team led by Amina Rangoonwala of USGS utilized airborne remote sensing imagery to analyze shoreline loss across almost the whole upper Barataria Bay, situated on the western region of the Mississippi River Delta, starting annually ahead of the spill and extending for 2.5 years after it. To determine whether the erosion ended up being probably be caused by the oil, additionally they compared shoreline loss for this deposited oil with shoreline erosion brought on by large waves from Hurricane Isaac in 2012.

The group found that although erosion happened at remote sections of the shoreline ahead of the spill, the pre-spill shoreline (as examined from 2009 to 2010) was largely steady. In the first year following the spill (2010 to 2011), the erosion design changed significantly from remote to widespread. Erosion occurred mainly along shorelines with documented heavy inside moderate oil coating. In second year following the spill (2011 to 2012), the larger reduction rates extended to places which had less oil coating. Oil may deteriorate or destroy plant life, leading to losing the origins that help hold earth collectively.

In August 2012, two months following the two-year post-spill duration, Hurricane Isaac made a direct hit on Barataria Bay. Erosion rates calculated into the four months after the hurricane were more than those calculated following the spill. But this erosion happened mainly on just a couple shorelines that prior to the spill revealed proof heightened susceptibility to wave-generated erosion.

"Our study exclusively implies that the patterns of shoreline recession observed in this area may be straight linked to distinctly various factors: generally dispersed erosion as a result of oiling from Deepwater Horizon spill, and improved, but spatially restricted, erosion as a result of intense violent storm impacts, " stated Rangoonwala.

The wetland effects regarding the spill recorded by the team included both the loss in wetlands because of shoreline erosion, and island fragmentation, in which tiny islands tend to be damaged into even smaller islands, generating more shoreline. Land lost from fragmentation is not likely to-be reestablished, especially in this area of the Mississippi River delta where levees avoid an influx of brand new sediments through the river. This can change all-natural coastal defenses against floods.

The photos amassed into the annual surveys and following Hurricane Isaac were acquired from NASA's Uninhabited Aerial Vehicle Synthetic Aperture Radar (UAVSAR), developed and handled by NASA's jet-propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California. UAVSAR flies on a C-20A analysis aircraft based at NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center facility in Palmdale, California. UAVSAR's polarized radar produced detailed representations of this marsh, which USGS experts then familiar with develop an ongoing process to analyze the shoreline recession by mapping the change in coast location.

"Through this technique, USGS and NASA experts created a repeatable, quantitative mapping technique that will enable us observe shoreline erosion after oil spills as time goes on, " stated research co-author Cathleen Jones of JPL. "having the ability to compare shoreline losses in annually with no significant storm to losses both after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and after the hurricane ended up being essential to correlating the erosion associated with the marsh to its fundamental reasons."

The analysis, "Wetland shoreline recession in the Mississippi River Delta from petroleum oiling and cyclonic storms, " is published inside journal Geophysical Research Letters.

NASA gathers information from room, air, land and sea to improve our knowledge of our house world, improve lives and protect our future. NASA develops new how to observe and learn Earth's interconnected natural methods with long-term information documents. The company easily shares this excellent understanding and works together with establishments all over the world to gain new insights into just how the planet is evolving.

Developed to evaluate brand new technologies and study Earth surface dynamics, UAVSAR is informing the style and planning for a future spaceborne radar objective, the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR), that is prepared to image very nearly the entire planet's area at least one time every 12 times.

To learn more about UAVSAR, visit:

To learn more about NISAR, go to:

To find out more about NASA's Earth technology tasks, check out:

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Materials supplied by NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Note: Content may be modified for style and size.

Journal Guide:

  1. Amina Rangoonwala, Cathleen E. Jones, Elijah Ramsey. Wetland shoreline recession in Mississippi River Delta from petroleum oiling and cyclonic storms. Geophysical Analysis Letters, 2016; DOI: 10.1002/2016GL070624

Cite These Pages:

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "Widespread land losings from 2010 Gulf oil spill, study locates." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 November 2016. .

NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (2016, November 22). Widespread land losings from 2010 Gulf oil spill, research locates. ScienceDaily. Recovered December 15, 2016 from

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