National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

Physical Oceanography Division

Taylor Energy oil leak

Field experiment at Taylor Energy oil leak offshore Mississippi Delta


On April 18 to 20, 2017, a group of scientists composed of Oscar Garcia (Watermapping), Matthieu Le Henaff (CIMAS/PhOD), and Ioannis Androulidakis (RSMAS), performed field experiment at the Taylor Energy oil leak site just offshore the Mississippi Delta, as part of the GoMRI project "Influence of river induced fronts on hydrocarbon transport" led by Villy Kourafalou (RSMAS). This oil leak followed the destruction of a Taylor Energy oilrig by Hurricane Ivan in 2004, and since then small quantities of oil has kept spreading at the surface of the Gulf. The field experiment consisted in the deployment of drifters of different designs, to test their ability to follow oil at the ocean surface. Moreover, the oil leak is located near the Delta, so that the spread of the oil is often influenced by the Mississippi River plume. This case happened during the experiment. Finally, the team collaborated with the GOMRI “Consortium for Advanced Research on Transport of Hydrocarbon in the Environment (CARTHE)”, led by Tamay Ozgokmen (RSMAS), as the RSMAS R/V Walton Smith, with the CARTHE scientists onboard, joined the study site on April 20, during their transect to their own field experiment. The CARTHE team took measurements of surface currents with X-band radar, and performed transects of temperature and salinity across the Mississippi River front near the Taylor site.


Figure: (a) From left to right: Matthieu Le Hénaff (CIMAS/PhOD), Oscar Garcia (Watermapping), and Ioannis Androulidakis (RSMAS), on board the St Anthony; (b) deployment of drifter in thin oil; (c) the R/V Walton Smith and the St Anthony near and on surface oil, with the Mississippi River waters in the background; (d) sheen oil at the surface of the Gulf on the study site