An official website of the United States government. Here's how you knowHere's how you know
Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.
Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.
Latest Earthquake | Chat Share
Oil spills, such as the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, are impactful environmental disasters that have long lasting effects to the landscape, native species, and inhabitants who depend on the area. The USGS explores the adverse effect that large-scale oil spills have on the environment and helps responders prepare for environmental recovery and rehabilitation.
As the name implies, an oil spill refers to any uncontrolled release of crude oil, gasoline, fuels, or other oil by-products into the environment. Oil spills can pollute land, air, or water. Although the term "oil spill" often makes people think of spills in the ocean and coastal waters, such as in 2010 during the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico or the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Alaska, it also refers to land spills, too. Spills are incredibly harmful to those species that come in direct contact with the polluted areas. And depending on the size and scale of an oil spill, the recovery time can take days to decades.
2010 DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL
The USGS responded to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill by establishing baseline conditions in water chemistry in coastal waters and bed sediments prior to landfall of the oil spill. After the spill reached shore, the USGS conducted additional sampling in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida to assess the effect of the oil spill on the Gulf coastal environment. Sampling locations include barrier islands and coastal wetlands that are critical to fish and wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico. The USGS provided decision support tools to help land managers and first environmental responders mitigate the effects of the oil spill and assist in restoration efforts.
RELATED USGS RESEARCH
The USGS monitors and assesses the impacts of oil spills on the environment. Here are a few additional resources to highlight USGS work on oil spills across the country. By no means are these the only oil spill studies the USGS conducts, but these links offer a good starting point to explore more research.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
The Deepwater Horizon
Small-scale oil spills are somewhat common across the United States. However, it is the rarer large-scale spills, such as Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon, that draw in USGS involvement.
Here are a few images and videos to help explain the impact of oil spills on the environment and how USGS science is used in the response efforts.
Here are a few examples of publications USGS produces on large-scale oil spills, like Deepwater Horizon.
The USGS releases top stories and news updates on different topics. Here are a few news stories related to oil spills.
Thanks to a quarter-century of research and monitoring, scientists now know how different wildlife species were injured by the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil...
On March 24, 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling nearly 11 million gallons of crude oil. At the time, the...
A new USGS-NASA study found widespread shoreline loss along heavily oiled areas of Louisiana's coast after the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill and...
Nearly 25 years after the Exxon Valdez oil spill injured wildlife off the coast of Alaska, a new report issued today by the U.S. Geological Survey...
A newly developed computer model holds the promise of helping scientists track and predict where oil will go after a spill, sometimes years later.
During large-scale oil spills the USGS usually collaborates with other sister agencies under the guidance of the Department of Interior.