DeepWater Horizon Oil Spill Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA)

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on April 20, 2010 and with it RPS’s involvement began with responding to the incident largely via an on-going contract with NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration to provide technical support to NOAA on natural resource damage assessment. Since then, RPS was involved in many aspects including:

  • RPS staff held technical roles such as serving on the Offshore Water Column, Plankton and Fish Technical Working Group and the Nearshore Fish and Invertebrates Technical Working Group; acting as chief scientist for some data collection cruises, and helping develop and implement over 30 sampling cruise plans.
  • RPS used its Spill Impacts (SIMAP) software, in addition to daily reports produced by NOAA, the USCG and others to direct the vessels to areas where data were collected on oil characteristics and its fate in the environment.
  • RPS scientists were dispatched to the Gulf to participate in data collection from offshore cruises monitoring the spill and its impacts.
  • RPS scientists also helped develop offshore biota sampling cruise plans, focused on characterizing the deep pelagic zone (200-1,500 m).
  • RPS staff assisted in managing the processing of biota samples and data collected during the field effort.
  • To help evaluate injuries for water column organisms, RPS conducted oil transport, fate and exposure modeling.
  • RPS developed a blowout model to simulate the behavior and fate of the oil immediately upon its exit into the water column.
  • To evaluate direct injury, RPS assisted in the analysis of historical datasets to inform baseline densities of fish and invertebrate species. 
Conceptual model and approach for modeling the plume and rising oil.
Plankton Imaging Device Deployment
Deepwater Fish and Invertebrate Sampling
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