The oilspill risk analysis model of the U. S. Geological Survey

Professional Paper 1227

, , , and



The U.S. Geological Survey has developed an oilspill risk analysis model to aid in estimating the environmental hazards of developing oil resources in Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) lease areas. The large, computerized model analyzes the probability of spill occurrence, as well as the likely paths or trajectories of spills in relation to the locations of recreational and biological resources which may be vulnerable. The analytical methodology can easily incorporate estimates of weathering rates , slick dispersion, and possible mitigating effects of cleanup. The probability of spill occurrence is estimated from information on the anticipated level of oil production and method of route of transport. Spill movement is modeled in Monte Carlo fashion with a sample of 500 spills per season, each transported by monthly surface current vectors and wind velocities sampled from 3-hour wind transition matrices. Transition matrices are based on historic wind records grouped in 41 wind velocity classes, and are constructed seasonally for up to six wind stations. Locations and monthly vulnerabilities of up to 31 categories of environmental resources are digitized within an 800,000 square kilometer study area. Model output includes tables of conditional impact probabilities (that is, the probability of hitting a target, given that a spill has occured), as well as probability distributions for oilspills occurring and contacting environmental resources within preselected vulnerability time horizons. (USGS)

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
The oilspill risk analysis model of the U. S. Geological Survey
Series title:
Professional Paper
Series number:
Year Published:
40 p.