The detection and mapping of oil on a marshy area by a remote luminescent sensor
Airborne remote sensing can be a cost-effective method for monitoring pollutants in large areas such as occur in oil spills. An opportunity to test a particular method arose when a well ruptured and for 23 days spewed a 90-meter fountain of oil into the air, dispersing the oil over a wide area. The method tested was an airborne luminescence detector with a Fraunhofer Line Discriminator (FLD) which was flown over the affected area 41 days after the well was capped to obtain a map or the deposition pattern. To calibrate the system, samples of Spartina (wire grass) and Phragmites (common reed) were collected from the contaminated area and the oil residues were eluted in cyclohexane and quantitatively analyzed in a fluorescence photometer. Good correlation was observed between the remote sensor (FLD) and the laboratory analysis. Isopleths defining the deposition pattern of oil were drawn from the remote sensing information. A discussion will be presented on the feasibility of using this instrument for similar contamination incidents for cleanup and damage assessment.