In Search of Oil Seeps in the Cariaco Basin Using MODIS and MERIS Medium-Resolution Data

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Cariaco basin, oil seeps

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Although there have been some reports of surface oil films in the Cariaco basin, there is little information available in either refereed or grey literature to characterize these oil films. Using MODIS 250-m resolution data (March 2011 to July 2012) and MERIS 300-m full resolution data (January 2005 to April 2012) collected under sun glint and cloud free conditions, we found repeated surface slicks at approximately the same locations. After ruling out other possible causes, the slicks are believed to result from natural oil seeps. These surface slicks ranged from 0.9 to 20.4 km in length, and their origins were determined by temporally correlating slick morphology, as determined through feature detection from the satellite imagery. A total of 11 seeps were identified using this method. These results demonstrate the capacity of MODIS and MERIS in identifying oil seeps in the Cariaco basin, where a more comprehensive investigation using higher-resolution imagery is warranted in the future.

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Remote Sensing Letters, v. 5, issue 5, p. 442-450