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Modeling the Potential Impact of Oil Spills on Commercial Fisheries in the Northern Gulf of Mexico

Graham, James; Rose, Kelly; Nelson, Jake; Sim, Lawrence; Ringo, Chris

Oil spills both from oil wells on the ocean floor and from ships can have complex interactions with the environment based on the susceptibility of local ecosystems and the movement and degradation of the hydrocarbons released. Oil spill models can be used to simulate potential extent and concentrations of hydrocarbons spatially and through time. Models can be used to evaluate the spatial-temporal dynamics of marine ecosystems, fisheries, and threatened and endangered species. Then, the intersection of these two modeling approaches can be used to determine the potential impacts of future oil spills on the environment in a specific time and place. Using a spatial-temporal approach is important in determining not only the initial impact of oil on an environment but also on expected recovery time which can vary based on the location of the spill, local weather conditions, and the current extent of species in the environment. The Gulf of Mexico is home to one of the largest fisheries in the world which also coincides with significant offshore hydrocarbon-related activities. Therefore, our modeling efforts seek to provide a tool and input data necessary to produce estimates of key species of concern for the economy and biodiversity and a framework that can be increased in complexity for a wide variety of scenarios.


AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90163©2013AAPG 2013 Annual Convention and Exhibition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 19-22, 2013