Deepwater Horizon Blowout - April 2010
Images related to the catastrophic blowout, explosion, fire and oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig in the north-central Gulf of Mexico. Read about it on the SkyTruth blog (

You can participate: Got oil on your beach? Help us document the impacts of this oil spill around the Gulf region by submitting a report on the Gulf Oil Spill Tracker site.

Or, join the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill 2010 group on Flickr and upload your photos, video and observations as this oil slick hits the beaches and estuaries of the Gulf coast.

UPDATE 7/29/10: Yesterday's MODIS and RADARSAT images unexpectedly show slicks and sheen spanning nearly 12,000 square miles. Based on other reports, and the recent trend on images indicating steady dissipation of the surface oil slick, we are optimistically assuming that nearly all of this is very thin sheen.

UPDATE 7/27/2010: RADARSAT images taken yesterday (July 26) show the oil slick is steadily dissipating. Click here for a non-annotated version.

Oil slicks and sheen were observed to cover 68,000 square miles of the Gulf on satellite images taken between April 25 and July 16. Click here for a graphic showing this cumulative oil slick "footprint."

UPDATE 7/26/10: The center of Bonnie's circulation appears close to the Macondo well site on a CSK radar satellite image taken July 24. CSK and MODIS satellite images the next day, July 25, show remnants of the BP oil slick scattered around the Mississippi Delta. No new oil is seen around the well site; it's been tightly capped since July 15.

UPDATE 7/23/10: Tropical Depression Bonnie approaches, but the trend we've seen recently holds: the area of oil slicks and sheen appears significantly smaller than at the beginning of the month. A MODIS / Aqua image taken on July 21 shows slicks and sheen spanning about 5,476 square miles, but also shows a large ocean-color anomaly that may or may not be related to the spill.

UPDATE 7/20/10: The cap is still shut, but small leaks have reportedly appeared on the seafloor around the well site. MODIS / Aqua and CSK radar satellite images taken on July 19 show oil slicks and sheen spanning about 7,868 square miles. An ominous ocean-color anomaly on the MODIS image extends over a larger area, and may indicate a zone of changed water chemistry (possible oxygen depletion?) due to the long-lasting spill.

UPDATE 7/15/10: After 87 days, the spill is completely stopped as the new sealing cap on the leaking well is totally closed. If the well passes this "integrity test" the valves will remain shut and the leak may be stopped for good.

A MODIS / Aqua image taken on July 14 shows the surface oil slick appears to be much smaller, spanning about 3,786 square miles.

UPDATE 7/9/10: An Envisat ASAR satellite radar image taken at 10:44 pm local time on July 7 clearly shows a large oil slick around the leaking well site, and a patchy area of slicks near the Mississippi shoreline. It also contains a large area of possible slicks and sheen stretching along the Gulf coast from just west of Mobile Bay to east of Panama City, although very low wind areas may be mixed in with the slicks.

UPDATE 7/5/10: A Radarsat image on July 2 shows much of the cloud-obscured slick; MODIS images on July 3 and July 4 give glimpses of parts of the slick, including patches reaching far to the west.

UPDATE 7/2/10: CSK radar satellite images taken June 28 cut through the solid cloud cover of tropical storm Alex to reveal the western half of the oil slick.

UPDATE 6/29/10: Radarsat images taken June 27 cut through the gathering clouds from passing tropical storm Alex, and show slicks and sheen spread out across 19,112 square miles of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico.

UPDATE 6/27/10: MODIS satellite images show oil slicks and sheen on June 25 and June 26 covering more than 23,000 square miles. Oil appears to be impacting beaches from Gulfport, Mississippi to Destin, Florida.

UPDATE 6/25/10: CSK radar satellite images taken late on June 22 and early on the 23rd show oil slicks spanning about 19,000 square miles. They also show signs of gusty, strong winds and thunderstorms.

UPDATE 6/23/10: An Envisat ASAR radar satellite image aquired June 21 penetrates the heavy clouds and haze to show oil slicks and sheen spread across 26,053 square miles of the northeastern Gulf. Compare with the cloud-covered MODIS/Aqua image taken on June 22.

We've also added a series of photographs taken by FSU researchers working near the site of the leaking well on June 22 and June 23.

UPDATE 6/21/10: MODIS Terra and Aqua images on June 18 and June 19 have some cloud-cover problems but still show oil slick and sheen spanning areas of 11,278 square miles and 18,473 square miles respectively, with oil apaprently coming ashore from Gulf Shores, Alabama to points as far east as Seacrest and Rosemary Beach, Florida. Oil is also apparent in Pensacola Bay on the 18th.

UPDATE 6/16/10: The latest good MODIS image, an Aqua image shot on June 12, shows oil slick and sheen spanning 23,140 square miles (59,932 km2) - an area as big as our home state, West Virginia.

UPDATE 6/10/10: The MODIS / Terra image taken June 7 shows slick and sheen across an area of 9,075 square miles (23,504 km 2).

A MODIS / Terra taken two days later, on June 9, has a broad sunglint pattern centered on the eastern Gulf that effectively illuminates the main oil slick as well as areas of what we interpret as much thinner sheen. Lots of judgment calls made when encircling the area of slicks and sheen, but we come up with a total area of 16,434 square miles (42,565 km2).

We don't think the actual area of ocean affected by slicks and sheen nearly doubled in just two days; rather, we think the MODIS image from June 9 was just much more effective at showing those areas than many of the images we've been collecting throughout this incident.

UPDATE 6/3/10: Cloudy MODIS again on 6/3 but a spectacular Envisat ASAR radar image was taken today of the Gulf spill. It shows oil appearing to make landfall in Alabama on the east side of Mobile Bay near Fort Morgan - Gulf Shores. Slick and sheen visible on this image, which doesn't extend very far west of the Delta, covers an area of about 11,5050 square miles (29,796 km2).

UPDATE 6/2/10: MODIS imagery has been very poor for showing the oil slick for the past few days. So we've taken another look at an oil platform in the vicinity that appears to have a small, ongoing leak: we can see a possible oil slick emanating from the location of platform 23051 on multiple dates of radar and visible-infrared satellite imagery, beginning with a MERIS image taken on April 25. Again, this is very small compared with the huge Deepwater Horizon spill, but it may indicate a chronic problem.

UPDATE 5/29/10: The MODIS / Aqua image taken the afternoon of May 27 again clearly shows the main body of the oil slick in the vicinity of the leaking well. It also shows entrainment in the Loop Current, and *possibly* shows oil moving past the Dry Tortugas and into the Florida Straits.

UPDATE 5/25/10: The relatively cloud-free MODIS / Terra image taken on May 24 shows slicks and sheen possibly covering as much as 29,000 square miles (75,000 km2). For comparison, we've included a matching version of this image with no annotation or interpretation.

UPDATE 5/24/10: A MODIS / Terra image taken on May 22 shows oil slick and sheen covering 16,538 square miles (42,833 km2); a MODIS / Aqua image taken the next day, May 23, shows slick and sheen spread widely throughout the eastern Gulf, possibly covering as much as 18,670 square miles (48,356 km2).

UPDATE 5/21/10: MODIS / Terra image today shows a very faint, long belt of anomalous ocean color that appears to follow the Loop Current. We have very tentatively identified this as possible oil slick and sheen carried far to the south. Consider this a low-confidence analysis; it's possible that the Loop Current has a distinct ocean-color signature without any oil present.

UPDATE 5/18/10: Envisat ASAR radar satellite image today shows oil slick entrained in the Loop Current and spreading out to the southeast. Slick and sheen covers 15,976 square miles (41,377 km2), about 50% larger than seen in yesterday's MODIS image and about twice the size of New Jersey.

UPDATE 5/17/10: MODIS/Terra image this afternoon shows slick being entrained in the Loop Current, with a broad conveyor-belt-like extension of the slick sweeping in a gentle arc to the southeast, reaching 222 miles (357 km) from the leaking well. Slick and sheen covers 10,170 square miles (26,341 km2), almost 100% larger than was visible in the 5/14 radar image.

UPDATE 5/14/10: COSMO-SkyMed radar image clearly shows almost all of the slick, spreading across 5,788 square miles (14,992 km2). And we think we've discovered a leak from a platform nearby, unrelated to this ongoing spill. This leak is visible on radar images from April 26, May 8 and May 13.

UPDATE 5/13/10: MODIS too cloudy to be useful yesterday (5/12) and today, but we got a COSMO-SkyMed radar satellite image that shows almost all of the slick in stunning detail. Slick covers about 4,922 square miles (12,748 km2) on the radar image.

UPDATE 5/11/10: Today's MODIS/Aqua image very cloudy; shows main body of slick and small patch off to west, spanning in all about 3,908 square miles (10,122 km2) but much of slick may be obscured.

UPDATE 5/10/10: MODIS/Terra image, partly obscured by cloud, shows observable slick and sheen today across an area of 4,683 square miles (12,129 km2).

Check out SkyTruth's new Gulf Oil Spill Tracker website. Help us show the world where oil is - and isn't - impacting the beaches, marshes and estuaries of the Gulf Coast..

UPDATE 5/9/10: MODIS/Aqua image this afternoon partly obscured by clouds haze (so what else is new?) but observable slick covers 4,384 square miles (11,355 km2) with fresh-looking oil around the well location. We think this is leaking about 1.1 million gallons per day - a lot more than the 210,000 gallon (5,000 barrel) per day estimate that keeps appearing in the media.

UPDATE 5/8/10: RADARSAT-2 satellite image taken early this morning clearly shows oil slicks and sheen spread across a about 5,025 square miles in the Gulf. Compare with MODIS image taken 4 hours later, still bothered by clouds; observable slicks and sheen cover 4,102 square miles.

UPDATE 5/7/10: MODIS image this afternoon only shows thickest oil in vicinity of leaking well. Compare with NOAA map showing predicted extent of spill today.

UPDATE 5/4/10: A break in the clouds this afternoon allows much (most?) of the slick to be seen on MODIS satellite imagery. Continued fresh upwelling of oil is apparent around the site of the leaking well; long tendrils of oil slick and sheen reaching to east and southwest. Turbidity fom recent high wind and waves, and streaks of dark wind-shadow, complicate the picture closer to shore.

UPDATE 5/1/10: A sad milestone for May Day - we calculate the total spill volume exceeded Exxon Valdez spill today. This afternoon's MODIS image is mostly cloudy but shows at least part of the slick around the leaking well location.

UPDATE 4/30/10: Oil is coming ashore now. We've added a map from European Space Agency and NASA showing cumulative oil slicks for April 26-29 as observed on MODIS and radar satellite images.

UPDATE 4/29/10: This afternoon's MODIS image shows oil virtually in contact with the Mississippi Delta shoreline. The full extent of the slick is visible, with oil covering 2,256 square miles. The slick is expected to start impacting the shoreline this evening.

UPDATE 4/28/10: NASA/MODIS image taken this afternoon shows oil slicks within 10 miles of shore. See spill map put out today by Coast Guard for full extent of oil slick, which is much larger than observable on today's MODIS satellite image.

UPDTE 4/27/10: NASA/ALI image also taken on April 25 shows detail of oil slick and peripheral sheen, and response vessels.

UPDATE 4/27/10: NASA/MODIS satellite image taken this afternoon shows oil slicks extending across 2,233 square miles and within 22 miles of shore.

UPDATE 4/26/10: NASA/MODIS satellite image shows oil slicks on April 25 covering about 817 square miles and reaching 50 miles from the point of origin.
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