ANALYSIS OF THE IMPACT OF THE 2010 DEEPWATER HORIZON OIL SPILL ON SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA MARSHES BASED ON LANDSAT SATELLITE DATA
The results suggest that erosion of shoreline marshes varied spatially and temporally in the three estuaries between 1984 and 2015. At the 30 meter2 scale examined, the variation in marsh area in the three estuaries suggests that the marsh erosion reflects both the marsh location within the bays, and the geometry of the marsh area with respect to the wave and current direction and energy of Gulf of Mexico waters, as much as it does the effects of the oiling. Decreases in marsh area since 1984 are attributed primarily to sea level rise and, to a lesser extent, wave erosion and marsh subsidence. The results suggest a slight, but statistically insignificant increase in shore erosion of some heavily oiled marshes compared to unoiled marshes. However, although this tentative finding agrees with ground observations, the increase is not statistically significant because the degree of marsh shoreline retreat is well below the 30 m2 resolution of Landsat TM imagery. Field measurements suggest that the erosion rate of heavily oiled marshes increased after October 2011, simultaneously with a decrease in erosion rates of low oil sites, and lateral accretion after May 2012 (McChenachan et al. 2013). McChenachan et al. (2013) hypothesize that heavy oiling weakens the soil, undercutting below the upper 50 cm of the marsh edge, increasing marsh erosion.