We’ve generated a sequence of maps showing the cumulative area of ocean covered by oil slicks and sheen during the 10-week oil spill in the Timor Sea off Australia last year. This is based on SkyTruth’s analysis of MODIS satellite images obtained from NASA throughout the event.
We calculate a total area of 22,163 square miles where oil slicks or sheen occurred at some time during the spill, which began when a well blew out during drilling operations on the new Montara platform on August 21, and ended when the damaged well was finally plugged on November 1. This is about the size of SkyTruth’s home state of West Virginia. Because there were many days when the MODIS images weren’t useful for mapping slicks (due to cloud cover or illumination conditions), the actual area is probably greater.