Timeline: a year of WHOI research on Deepwater Horizon.
Article Type:
Water pollution research (Management)
Pub Date:
Name: Oceanus Publisher: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Earth sciences; Environmental issues Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2011 Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution ISSN: 0029-8182
Date: Fall, 2011 Source Volume: 48 Source Issue: 3
Event Name: Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill, 2010 Event Code: 200 Management dynamics Computer Subject: Company business management
Product Code: 8519120 Water Pollution Control R&D; 9106438 Water Pollution R&D NAICS Code: 54171 Research and Development in the Physical, Engineering, and Life Sciences; 92411 Administration of Air and Water Resource and Solid Waste Management Programs
Organization: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Geographic Scope: United States Geographic Name: Gulf of Mexico Geographic Code: 0GULF Gulf of Mexico; 1USA United States

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APR 2010

"April 20 Explosion on BP's Deepwater Horizon drilling platform kills 11 workers and injures 17. Oil and natural gas begin gushing from the Macondo well at the seafloor, 1,500 meters (almost a mile) below the surface.


23 Platform sinks. BP estimates the rate of oil flowing into the Gulf at 1,000 barrels (or 42,000 gallons) per day (BPD).

28 NOAA releases first official government flow rate estimate of 5,000 BPD (210,000 gallons).

MAY 2010

May 1 BP officials consult with WHOI scientists and engineers about blowout preventer, flow rate measurements, and other aspects of the spill.

19 WHOI scientist Rich Camilli testifies to the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment about using acoustic techniques to measure the flow of fluid out of the Macondo well.

WHOI scientists Susan Avery, Judy McDowell, John Farrington, and Chris Reddy participate in a meeting about the crisis called by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.


31 WHOI scientists Rich Camilli and Andy Bowen measure rate of oil and gas flowing out of the Macondo well using acoustic sensors mounted on a remotely operated vehicle. See Page 20.

JUNE 2010

June 2-11 WHOI researchers Brian Guest, Dan Torres, Marshall Swartz, Melissa Patrician, and Glen Gawarkiewicz provide equipment and expertise to help NOAA collect water samples from the NOAA ship Thomas Jefferson.

7 WHOI oceanographer Breck Owens begins monitoring Gulf currents using a Spray glider. See Page 6.

10 Chris Reddy testifies before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment about human exposure to petrochemicals and the fate of oil in the environment.

12 WHOI scientists Cabell Davis and Nick Loomis begin first of three cruises deploying HoloPOD to image plankton and oil droplets in the Gulf. See Page 11.

15 Chris Reddy testifies before U.S. House Subcommittee on Insular Affairs, Oceans, and Wildlife about the federal capacity to respond to oil spills.

Federal government updates its flow rate estimate to 35,000 to 60,000 BPD (1,470,000 to 2,520,000 gallons).

17 Reddy, Camilli, Van Mooy, and technical staff from WHOI depart on the R/V Endeavor to begin research funded under NSF Rapid Response Research Program. See Page 28.

19 WHOI scientist Ben Van Mooy measures Gulf oxygen levels to assess potential threat of hypoxic "dead zones." See Page 46.


20-21 WHOI researchers Chris Reddy, Rich Camilli, and Sean Sylva collect sample of oil and gas directly from the Macondo well, using Isobaric Gas-Tight samplers developed by WHOI scientist Jeff Seewald. See Page 24.

25 Sample collected from well on 6/21 delivered by Coast Guard to WHOI for extraction and analysis.

Sediment traps placed by WHOI scientist Chris German in September 2009 are recovered and new traps placed in an ongoing study to look for changes in the ocean after the oil spill. See Page 40

27 The WHOI-operated deep-sea vehicle Sentry, equipped with TETHYS, completes surveys to map underwater plume of petrochemicals. WHOI team collects water from plume for analysis with 2-D GCxGC gas chromatography. See Pages 16 and 28.

JULY 2010

July 13 Chris Reddy testifies before the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling about using dispersants to combat spills.

15 WHOI researchers Sean Sylva and Jeff Seewald extract oil and natural gas from Isobaric Gas-Tight sampler at WHOI. See Page 8.

Temporary cap is successfully placed on the well, stopping the flow of oil into the Gulf.

mid-July WHOI geochemist Elizabeth Kujawinski begins using mass spectrometer to detect dispersants in Gulf water samples. See Page 14.

AUG 2010

Aug. 19 who, scientists publish first peer-reviewed paper on DWH research in Science and hold press conference at National Press Club. See Page 28.

21 Expedition aboard WHOI-operated ship Oceanus led by Georgia Tech scientists studies plankton in the Gulf.

29 Spray glider is recovered after confirming separation of eddy from the Gulf Loop Current. See Page 6.

SEPT 2010

Sept. 1 WHOI biologist Ann Tarrant begins study on longterm biological impacts of oil and dispersants. See Page 44.

mid-Sept. Chris Reedy becomes temporary advisor to the Unified Command, the consortium of federal agencies and BP that coordinated responses to the oil spill.

19 Macondo well declared dead after relief wells reduce pressure on it.


27 Rich Camilli testifies before the National Commission about WHOI underwater plume mapping and flow rate measurements. He presents a preliminary estimate of 59,000 BPD leaking from the Macondo well on May 31.

28 WHOI scientist emeritus John Farrington testifies before the National Commission about the 1979 lxtoc l oil spill in the Gulf and offers scientific recommendations on Deepwater Horizon.

OCT 2010

Oct. 14 WHOI scientists Chris German and Tim Shank, with Chuck Fisher of Penn State, begin cruise using ROV Jason to examine deepwater coral and cold seep habitats potentially affected by the spill.

NOV 2010

Nov. 8 Expedition aboard WHOI ship Atlantis led by University of Georgia scientists begins using deep-sea submersible Alvin to survey the deep-sea environment in the Gulf.

DEC 2010


Dec. 7 Chris German, Tim Shank, and Chuck Fisher, aboard the research vessel Atlantis, use Alvin and Sentry to study deep-sea habitats in the Gulf. See Page 40.

JAN 2011

Jan. 11 National Commission issues its final report.

MAR 2011

Mar. 9 Cabell Davis embarks on one-month, 3,000-mile cruise with digital autonomous video plankton recorder towed from R/V Oceanus to assess biological impacts of oil in the Gulf. See Page 11.

10 The Flow Rate Technical Group, a specially convened group of scientists that included Rich Camilli, issues final report on the rate of oil flowing into the Gulf. The total estimated release is 4.9 million barrels of oil.

Studies on Deepwater Horizon Published by WHOI Scientists

Several WHOI laboratory groups, with expertise spanning engineering, chemistry, and biology, have published collaborative and complementary research on diverse issues concerning the spill. Research is ongoing with further studies submitted for publication in scientific journals.

Tracking Hydrocarbon Plume Transport and Biodegradation at Deepwater Horizon

Richard Camilli, Christopher M. Reddy, Dana R. Yoerger, Benjamin A. S. Van Mooy, Michael V. Jakuba, James C. Kinsey, Cameron P. McIntyre, Sean P. Sylva, and James V. Maloney. Published online Aug. 19, 2010, in Science.

Fate of Dispersants Associated with the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Elizabeth B. Kujawinski, Melissa C. Kido Soule, David L. Valentine, Angela K. Boysen, Krista Longnecker, and Molly C. Redmond. Published online Jan. 26, 2011, in Environmental Science & Technology

Composition and Fate of Gas and Oil Released to the Water Column During the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Christopher M. Reddy, J. Samuel Arey, Jeffrey S. Seewald, Sean R Sylva, Karin L Lemkau, Robert K. Nelson, Catherine A. Carmichael, Cameron P. McIntyre, Judith Fenwick, G. Todd Ventura, Benjamin A. S. Van Mooy, and Richard Camilli. Published online July 1, 2011, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Rapid Microbial Respiration of Oil from the Deepwater Horizon Spill in Offshore Surface Waters of the Gulf of Mexico

Bethanie R. Edwards, Christopher M. Reddy, Richard Camilli, Catherine A. Carmichael, Krista Longnecker, and Benjamin A. S. Van Mooy. Published online Aug. 2, 2011, in Environmental Research Letters.

Acoustic Measurement of the Deepwater Horizon Macondo Well Flow Rate

Richard Camilli, Daniela Di Iorio, Andrew Bowen, Christopher M. Reddy, Alexandra H. Techet, Dana R. Yoerger, Louis L. Whitcomb, Jeffrey S. Seewald, Sean R Sylva, Judith Fenwick. Published online Sept. B, 2011, in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
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