Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico
acquired July 4, 2010 download large image (4 MB, JPEG, 3840x2880)
acquired July 4, 2010 download Google Earth file (KMZ)

Oil from the damaged Deepwater Horizon oil well lingered off the Mississippi Delta on July 4, 2010. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra captured this natural-color image the same day. The oil appears as an uneven light gray shape east-southeast of the delta.

The oil was visible to MODIS on July 4 thanks to sunglint. Oil smoothes the surface of the water, making it a better mirror of sunlight. As a result, close to the Sun’s reflection, the oil is brighter than surrounding water. This is especially true between the Mississippi Delta and the Deepwater Horizon location. East of the rig, however, sunglint lightens most of the water, making it more difficult to distinguish oil from oil-free water. Please see the links below for more information.

  1. Related Resources

  2. Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Response, the official site of the Deepwater Horizon unified command.
  3. Current information about the extent of the oil slick is available from the Office of Response and Restoration at the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration.
  4. Information about the impact of the oil slick on wildlife is provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

NASA image courtesy MODIS Rapid Response Team. Caption by Michon Scott.

Instrument(s): 
Terra - MODIS

Oil Slick in the Gulf of Mexico

Image Location
Image Location
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