Risky business : evaluating the vulnerability and impacts from simulated oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/1r66j412c

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  • Exploration and production of oil in the Gulf of Mexico has seen an astonishing increase since the first well was drilled in 1936. Much of the current exploration is occurring in waters greater than 5000 feet. The largest and most unprecedented oil spill in the United States occurred on April 20, 2010 when the British Petroleum (BP) Deepwater Horizon, semisubmersible drilling platform experienced a catastrophic failure at the well head while drilling in about 5000 feet of water depth. In the three months that followed the blowout, 4.5 million barrels of oil were discharged into the Gulf of Mexico waters. The oil had dire consequences on the ecology, economy, and biology of the system. The spill highlighted gaps in our knowledge concerning the exploration of deepwater (500-5000 ft.) and ultra-deepwater (5000+ ft.) offshore environments. No other spill in the United States has occurred in water depths comparable to the Deepwater Horizon spill. Because of the unprecedented nature of the spill, scientists did not have an accurate estimate of where the oil would go or even how much oil was entering the water column, let alone an estimate of where the most damage might occur. In this study, I present a baseline approach for evaluating oil spills to alleviate some of the uncertainties seen during the Deepwater Horizon disaster. A number of key data sets to be used in vulnerability and impact assessment were collected and created. The data sets were then incorporated into a methodology/framework relying on a vector grid to capture the spatial characteristics of the study system. To test the approach, the Blowout and Spill Occurrence Model (BLOSOM) was used to simulate multiple oil spill scenarios at varying locations and depths across the Gulf of Mexico. A cross-analysis was then performed to analyze the spatial data sets and discrete oil spill quantities captured spatially using the vector grid. The result of the cross-analysis was compared between scenarios to assess how changes affect the overall vulnerability and impact in the Gulf of Mexico.
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  • description.provenance : Approved for entry into archive by Julie Kurtz(julie.kurtz@oregonstate.edu) on 2014-06-21T21:59:42Z (GMT) No. of bitstreams: 2 license_rdf: 1370 bytes, checksum: cd1af5ab51bcc7a5280cf305303530e9 (MD5) NelsonJakeR2014.pdf: 3150288 bytes, checksum: a2cd045423fe3698bbaf9c22ef8a0481 (MD5)
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