Where will the Gulf spill spread?

    Oil leaking from an exploded well in the Gulf of Mexico could travel up the east coast as far as the shores of Delaware and New Jersey.

    A cap over the leaking oil well in the Gulf of Mexico is BP Oil’s latest attempt to stem the flow. Over the last six weeks tens of millions of gallons of oil have spread through the Gulf. But where will it all go? WHYY’s health and science reporter Kerry Grens reports one Temple University professor is trying to find out.
    (This sea surface temperature image shows how the warm waters of the Loop Current connect the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean- Flickr/NASA)
    Michel Boufadel has been studying oil spills for years.. He’s made several trips to Alaska to survey the lasting effects of the Exxon Mobil disaster, which took place more than 20 years ago. But the BP mess in the Gulf presents totally new problems.

    One of the challenges there is due to the fact that the spill came out from the deep sea. It is really spreading and dispersing in the whole water column. So it is really difficult to track the movement of the subsurface plume.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration brought Boufadel and a handful of other experts to the Gulf this month to help predict where the plumes might travel. Some estimates show oil following currents up the east coast, or across the Atlantic to Europe. Boufadel says it’s difficult to know until the gusher is stopped. He expects to make another trip to the Gulf later in June.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal