NOAA Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment

The Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest oil spill in U.S. waters to date. RPS was part of the initial field response to monitor the oil spill, developed a new model to simulate the behavior of oil at deep release depths, and quantified injury to marine biota from the spilled oil for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Key Details

Project Name

NOAA Deepwater Horizon Natural Resource Damage Assessment


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)


  • Oil and gas


  • Deepwater Gulf of Mexico, USA

Services Provided

  • Natural resource damage assessment 
  • Data collection and data management 
  • Numerical modelling 
  • Marine biology  
  • Environmental impact assessment 


Deepwater Horizon was a large spill from deep water that released oil for many months. The numerical models developed by RPS had to be modified to simulate the complicated oil trajectory from deep water and behavior of the oil over many months, including the application of subsea dispersant.  

Deep Water Boat (NAM).png


RPS supported NOAA and federal agencies by:  

  • designing offshore biota sampling cruise plans to characterize the deep pelagic zone; 
  • using our SIMAP software to direct response vessels to areas of predicted oiling; 
  • participating in data collection from offshore cruises monitoring the spill;
  • managing the processing of physical, chemical and biological data; and
  • upgrading the SIMAP model to successfully simulate a blowout and the trajectory and fate of the oil in the deep water column and as it ascended to the water surface. 

Project Statistics

days it took to seal the well
foot water depth
barrels of oil released into the Gulf of Mexico
billion US dollars - estimated cost of spill to BP

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