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Observing Oil Surface Area Due to Seepage in Lake Maracaibo

Abstract

A study for quantifiable as well as visual evidence of the extent and validity of the recent oil seepage on Lake Maracaibo's surface was conducted. In order to better understand the magnitude of this seepage, data in the form of images has been acquired from the Alaska Satellite Facility on the Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) platform. ALOS holds the instrument Phased Array type L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (PALSAR). The images represent areas on the right side of the lake, where the most significant changes in oil accumulation were noted. The time frame of the study was narrowed to the span between June 24, 2010, and September 3, 2010. The narrowed time frame allowed for the examination of the lake just before, during and just after the increased oil seepage. Six images were collected that fit within the desired time frame and represent areas on the right side of the lake. The ENVI classic computer program processed the images to help discern the extent of the seepage. The images were also visually examined to note the differences in oil accumulation on the lake's surface, indicative of the changes in oil seepage. Considerations were taken to determine if the patches of oil were indeed oil or look-alikes, which are environmental and weather conditions often mistaken for oil patches in radar data. Findings indicate the areas on the lake's surface originally considered to be oil are, under the restrictions encountered in the study, indeed oil.