Oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and spiral vortex (2010)

Zheng Quanan, Zhao Qing, Nan Walker, Li Chunyan

Drilling rig Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico, leased by BP PLC from Transocean Ltd., exploded and caught fire on April 20, 2010. The drilling location is at some 50 miles (80 mkilometers) off the coast of Louisiana, USA. The rig sank on APril 22. Since then, oil has been pouring into the Gulf from the blown-out undersea well. As reported by US Today and Calgary Herald on July 3, an estimated 35 000 to 60 000 barrels of oil per day has been gushing out of the ruptured well into the Gulf. That means amounts to a total of 1.9 to 3.6 million barrels of oil so far have gushed into the Gulf. Using the high end of that estimate, the spill has now surpassed the 1979 Ixtoc blowout, which took nine months to cap and dumped estimated 3.3 million barrels (140 000 million gallons) into the Gulf of Mexico. It is topped only by the deliberate release of six to eight million barrels of crude oil by Iraqi troops who destroyed tankers and oil terminals and set wells ablaze in Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War.

Ref: Acta Oceanologica Sinica, Vol. 29, No. 4, pp. 1-2, April 1, 2010

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