What Happens When an Oil Spill Occurs?
ES0703  Overflight Observations

When an oil spill has occurred, data collected from helicopter or plane flights over the area help responders assess the extent of the spill. The location of the oil, along with detailed observations about its appearance, is recorded onto an overflight map. This image shows an overflight map generated to illustrate possible conditions for the simulated Long Island Sound spill.

  !   Move your cursor over the places where oil was observed along the flight path. Click each spot to see a photograph of that type of oil.


The glimmer of oil on water is referred to as sheen. Sheen indicates that the oil has spread quite thin. When the oil is still very concentrated, it is very dark and is referred to as black oil. When the wind is high and the water gets rough, the oil will become mixed into the water. When it becomes thick like pudding, it is called mousse.

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