How Much Coast Can You Cover with 174,000,000 Gallons of Oil?

(4PM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

If we run with the current “high” estimate of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico at about 60,000 barrels per day, and making a generous allowance for BP’s partial containment at about 10,000 barrels per day…

Then a reasonable estimate of the total spill would be about 50,000 barrels per day, about 2,000,000 gallons, and in 87 days that adds up to about 174,000,000 gallons of oil.

A standard authority about the mechanics of oil slicks calculates the “critical” thickness at which a slick still presents a uniform black sheen at about 0.1 millimeter.

Google’s handy calculator of volumes reveals that 174,000,000 gallons is just about 660,000 cubic meters, and since 1 cubic meter of oil will cover 10,000 square meters to a depth of 0.1 millimeter…

We can now calculate that 660,000 cubic meters of oil can produce an oil slick which extends over 6,600,000,000 square meters.

The entire coastline of the United States is about 12,000 miles long, and since 6,600,000,000 square meters is about 2,500 square miles…

We can now calculate that 174,000,000 gallons of oil could cover the entire coastline of the United States for about 1000 feet inland from the tide-line.

And how would that look on a map?

Oil Map


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  1. …on waterfowl, nor the magnitude of this at any flow rate, nonetheless, WKRG reported the estimated gallons leaked at—



    gallons at the time of well containment/closure.

    It’s here  

  2. Would go past my door. The Gulf Rookeries and marshes….

    From Wednesday 16 June 2010

    BP is evil.

  3. Gives a very good idea of how much and how extensive.

    The numbers of gallons/barrels are conflicting just about everywhere you look.  But that has to do with BP’s liability/fines for each barrel.

    Anyway, if I’m not mistaken, there are 43 gallons per barrel.  At several points, where the oil was gushing freely, estimates were as much as 100,000 barrels per day, as I recollect.  Apparently, when the oil was gushing out unabated, there would be no means of measuring the barrels, hence, the fines, as well.  Kinda’ makes you wonder!

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