A recent study revealed that oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion did not reach as much of the Gulf Coast as feared due to the force of the Mississippi River. The oil spill happened around the same time as the river’s annual spring flood. The large volume of freshwater flowing into the Gulf of Mexico created a slight tilt in the water surface, keeping the oil from the shore.
The study researchers began looking at ocean topography after realizing the forecast of where the oil would be each day was inaccurate because it was based on the movement of the water rather than the movement of the oil.
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Image credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute.