Oil Slick Morphology Derived from AVIRIS Measurements of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Implications for Spatial Resolution Requirements of Remote Sensors

Document Type


Publication Date



Oil spill, Remote sensing, AVIRIS, Landsat, MERIS, Morphology

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)



Using fine spatial resolution (~7.6m) hyperspectral AVIRIS data collected over the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, we statistically estimated slick lengths, widths and length/width ratios to characterize oil slick morphology for different thickness classes. For all AVIRIS-detected oil slicks (N=52,100 continuous features) binned into four thickness classes ( ≤ 50 μm but thicker than sheen, 50-200 μm, 200-1000 μm, and > 1000 μm), the median lengths, widths, and length/width ratios of these classes ranged between 22 and 38 m, 7-11 m, and 2.5-3.3, respectively. The AVIRIS data were further aggregated to 30-m (Landsat resolution) and 300-m (MERIS resolution) spatial bins to determine the fractional oil coverage in each bin. Overall, if 50% fractional pixel coverage were to be required to detect oil with thickness greater than sheen for most oil containing pixels, a 30-m resolution sensor would be needed.

Was this content written or created while at USF?


Citation / Publisher Attribution

Marine Pollution Bulletin, v. 103, issues 1–2, p. 276-285