Expert's Response on Refugio Oil Spill Event

Igor Mezic was at a conference in Snowbird, Utah, when he got information that a ripped oil pipeline had sent tens of thousands of gallons of crude pouring into the ocean just north of Refugio State Beach.

But distance did not discourage the UC Santa Barbara professor of mechanical engineering who with previous project scientist Sophie Loire, undergraduate Patrick Clary and several of his students was attending the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics’ Conference on Applications of Dynamical Systems. They instantly began gathering data and producing hyper graphs that, based on calculations of velocity streams, allowed them to predict in what directions the oil might spread.

During that time, when David Valentine, a professor of earth science at UCSB and an expert on the behavior of oil and methane in the ocean, heard the news, he and two of his students hastily made their way up the coast. They began gathering oil samples from areas up and down the beach and in the ocean.

Mezic and Valentine are two in a large group of UCSB scientists, researchers and engineers who have responded to the oil spill by bringing together their substantial expertise. Working often in team work with one another, they are collecting and providing numerous data and observations to agencies such as the Southern California Coastal Ocean Observing System, which is at work with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s response team. Their research is probable to help inform ongoing response and cleanup efforts.

Further, several researchers and graduate students are being trained in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response (HAZWOPER) standards in order to support the ongoing cleanup efforts.

More news and information at Expert Response | The UCSB Current