Working with the ECOGIG consortium, we set out to locate natural oil seeps in the Gulf of Mexico then adaptively sample inside and outside the seep areas.
The objective was to understand the impact of natural seepage versus that of abrupt large hydrocarbon inputs on deepwater ecosystems. This effort is part of understanding long-term effects and mechanisms of ecosystem recovery from the Deepwater Horizon accident.
Saildrone #125 deployed out of Cocodrie, LA through a dense oil platform field to a seep 200 nautical miles offshore. After successfully locating the seep, confirmed by an overflight, SD #125 surveyed the area for three weeks then sailed back to its base after 1 month and ~1500 NM of autonomous deployment.
The Gulf of Mexico is an incredibly congested area with over 3000 oil platforms and many more supply ships tending these platforms. This was one of many missions completed by Saildrones in the Gulf of Mexico, demonstrating safe and precise piloting in one of the most challenging environments.
Science publication: "Hindcast modeling of oil slick persistence from natural seeps"
Remote Sensing of Environment, Volume 189, February 2017, Pages 96-107
Samira Daneshgar Asl, Dmitry S. Dukhovskoy, Mark Bourassa, Ian R. MacDonald