Tuesday, May 11, 2010

BP / Gulf Oil Spill - MODIS Satellite Image - May 10, 2010

Yesterday's MODIS/Terra satellite image has some of the usual complications - clouds, haze, and turbidity again may be obscuring portions of the slick. Observable slick and sheen covers 4,683 square miles (12,129 km2). Thicker, fresh-looking oil is apparent in the vicinity of the leaking well, and still appears to be entrained in a counterclockwise gyre (a circular current):


See all of the images in our Deepwater Horizon oil spill gallery. Follow us on Twitter, and you'll know what we know as soon as we know it...

19 comments:

  1. How are the dispersant toxins affecting what we see and understand? Are we seeing less oil on the top due to the dispersant material creating a "pea soup" below the surface? I have heard that the "water column is thick with pea sized oil droplets due to the chemical use of dispersants." What does that mean? Are we trading one type of oil slick for another? A submerged unseen and hidden variety that has as great an ecological impact below the surface and that above? What the heck is going on?

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  2. John, I was just looking at an image showing an eddy in the warm loop current that appears to me to reach up into the oil slick.

    Is that oil now in the loop currrent and headed to FL? Have you seen any evidence of oil closer to FL and possibly even towards the Keys?

    Thank you.

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  3. There has been a persistent eddy or gyre off the north side of the loop current in recent days. We haven't seen any sign yet of surface oil being entrained in the loop current, but our images have been partly obscured by clouds and haze almost every day - so we can't say with certainty that oil is not entering the loop. We also can't see what's happening in the water column, with oil that has not yet surfaced or is partly emulsified (due to the application of dispersant, and to natural processes).

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  4. http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/incident_response/STAGING/local_assets/images/original_plume_1.jpg

    http://www.bp.com/liveassets/bp_internet/globalbp/globalbp_uk_english/incident_response/STAGING/local_assets/images/original_plume_2.jpg

    A flow expert could try to make an estimation. The inner pipe is maybe 8-10 inches.

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  5. Tim - there were originally 3 leaks from the riser pipe; the smallest was capped several days ago, leaving one main leak near the BOP stack that accounts for 80-85% of the oil flow according to BP, and a second much smaller leak further down the riser. Which leak is shown in these images?

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  6. John -

    Amateur Video Of Gulf Oil Slick - Worse Than BP Admits

    Video is from Alabama resident John Wathen as a volunteer pilot flew him over the area where the oil rig sank.

    http://current.com/news/92426752_amateur-video-of-gulf-oil-slick-worse-than-bp-admits.htm

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  7. Colorado Bob, that video is heartwrenching. man o man....

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  8. Should be the main leak in the images. Sure looks like multiple fire hoses (one is 3 gallons per second).

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  9. Compare these videos: They are claiming this one is the main leak of the remaining two: http://www.youtube.com/user/DeepwaterHorizonJIC#p/u/1/WYFYVNvgg-A

    But look at this just released vid: look at the volume seen pluming around the first failed 100 ton coffer dam... it sure doesn't look like its coming from that pipe vid they are showing http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2JTM2QyAfCI

    What is the width of that pipe? Anyone know?

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  10. video of the leak. ok.....area x velocity = volume per second. Anyone know where we can get a video with a better refresh rate so that we can calculate a good spill volume from the main leak?

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  11. I can't get anything good from that video. What we really need is the pressure in the pipe after the BOP. BP definitely has that info....but I haven't seen it public anywhere.

    Also, does anyone have a link to a good value of the interior diameter of that pipe? I see at least four different numbers floating around.

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  12. Christoph: I've done a calculation based on some the video and had a friend do it as well. We've come up with flow rates of 1.5 to 3 ft/sec. BP says the pipe is 12" diameter and represents 85% of the flow. Since it appears a bunch of natural gas is exhausting as well we took 30% off the top for natural gas. A 12" pipe hold .785 cubic feet per foot of pipe. That is 5.9 gallons per foot of pipe or .14 barrels. This would put the total lead rate (of both leaks) at 14,000-28,000 barrels per day or 600k to 1.2m gallons per day.

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  13. I should also comment that I'm not an expert and a BP expert was quoted yesterday as saying that 'no one can get a good number of the flow looking at that video' (paraphrased). My personal feeling is that this video provides some confirmation that 5k barrels is a dramatic understatement of the flow.

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  14. The leaking pipe is the riser, exterior diameter 21", interior diameter 19.5". See http://www.deepwater.com/fw/main/Deepwater-Horizon-56C16.html?LayoutID=17 for confirmation that the riser used by the deepwater horizon was 21 inch OD. See e.g. http://geofluid.snu.ac.kr/~jchoe/IADC97.pdf for confirmation that with a 21 inch standard riser pipe interior diameter is 19.5".

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  15. From NPR today (http://tinyurl.com/2dkk52z):

    "But sophisticated scientific analysis of seafloor video made available Wednesday by the oil company BP shows that the true figure is closer to 70,000 barrels a day, NPR's Richard Harris reports.

    That means the oil spilling into the Gulf has already far exceeded the equivalent of the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker accident in Alaska, which spilled at least 250,000 barrels of oil.

    The analysis was conducted by Steve Werely, an associate professor at Purdue University, using a technique called particle image velocimetry. Harris tells Michele Norris that the method is accurate to a degree of plus or minus 20 percent. That means the flow could range between 56,000 barrels a day and 84,000 barrels a day.

    Another analysis by Eugene Chiang, a professor of astrophysics at the University of California, Berkeley, calculated the rate of flow to be between 20,000 barrels a day and 100,000 barrels a day."

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  16. Is there any video of the wellhead itself?
    All I've seen appears to be the riser leak. Since the cementing and BOP failures were at the wellhead, wouldn't the greatest loss be there where the pressure is greatest?

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  17. Re: NPR article. Wow. That would mean we are at 6x the Valdez spill as of now?

    I hope the MSM picks up on this.

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  18. good work skytruth.org - good NYT story!

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  19. I'm waiting to see more definitive calculations of the leak flow rate from a few of the scientists who specialize in this (I'm thinking about folks like the marine geoscientists at Lamont-Doherty, or Scripps, or Woods Hole who study the "black smoker" vents on the deep seafloor; they have experience analyzing video to calculate the flow rates from those vents). But it does seem at this point that the leak video is supporting a much higher rate of flow than the last official estimate of 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) per day.

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