Commemorative coin presented to John Cassels for his service on the project.

Deepwater Horizon / BP Gulf Oil Spill Response

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 6, under contract to Weston Solutions, Inc.


  • Provided Geographic Information System (GIS) and Data Management support
  • Conducted data audits, oceanographic/geo-spatial data processing and data warehousing in EPA’s Scribe database
  • Maintained a Sampling/Monitoring Program Information Matrix
  • Provided GIS and oceanographic data assessment support to EPA, NOAA, and the U.S. Coast Guard
  • Assisted  the Operational Science Advisory Team (OSAT) with inclusive analytical  data summaries and maps highlighting analytical data results 

On  April 20, 2010, British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon Oil Rig located  approximately 50 miles off the coast of Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico  exploded and sank causing a massive underwater oil gusher. Efforts to  cap the well proved difficult.

GEODESY principal scientist, John  Cassels, provided U.S. Environmental Protection agency (EPA) with  Geographic Information System (GIS) and Data Management support  throughout the duration of the Gulf Oil Spill Response at the Incident  Command Center (ICC) located in Houma, LA, as well as the Unified Area  Command (UAC) located in New Orleans, LA.

Cassels  assisted EPA On-Site Coordinators (OCSs) with daily emergency response  efforts specifically related to data and mapping activities associated  with EPA’s on-going Air Monitoring, Surface Water and Sediment Sampling,  and Waste Management programs. In addition, National Oceanic and  Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requested support from EPA to conduct  data audits, oceanographic/geo-spatial data processing and data  warehousing in EPA’s Scribe database. Oceanographic data was collected  daily throughout the Response phase of the incident by numerous NOAA and  BP vessels during ongoing NOAA Sub-surface Monitoring Unit (SMU)  operations. Sample location coordinates were extracted from daily vessel  data deliverables/reports and exported to geo- databases for mapping  activities to support daily SMU mission guidance.

Unified  Command requested that EPA continue to maintain a Sampling/Monitoring  Program Information Matrix developed early on in the incident response  effort. Organized by agency, it provided metadata including , program  purpose, contact information, links to operating procedures, as well as  every analysis conducted on literally hundreds of separate sampling  tasks and programs. This became an invaluable reference and is expected  to aid future research efforts.

Cassels also  provided GIS and oceanographic data assessment support to EPA, NOAA, and  the US Coast Guard related to Phase II and III of the Special  Monitoring of Applied Response Technologies (SMART) program. This  included dispersant monitoring data analysis, summary, and summary  graphic preparations with maps charts, photos, weather/sea conditions  and efficacy statements to help document the effectiveness of vessel and  aerial application of dispersants on oil slicks on the Gulf surface  throughout the Gulf Response. SMART data was also maintained/ uploaded  to EPA’s Scribe database.

As the response phase  began to wind down, Cassels was re-assigned by EPA to the UAC, New  Orleans to support a committee of scientists which became known as the  Operational Science Advisory Team (OSAT). Cassels assisted OSAT with  inclusive analytical data summaries and maps highlighting analytical  data results and locations where Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA)  indicators exceeded specific established EPA benchmarks. OSAT used that  information to identify data gaps and recommend additional sampling  prior to transition from the response phase to the recovery/damage  assessment phase of the incident.