BP’s Flawed Bathymetry Set The Stage for Macondo Blowout

The little Mole Hill that is really a Mountain

by BK Lim, Geohazards Specialist
(6 Sept 2010, hydrocomgeo@gmail.com).

Very often we make a mountain out of a mole hill, but in the BP’s Macondo bathymetry, it is just the opposite. The reasons for this willful negligence are already given in previous articles. This posting is to illustrate why we do not get it right when looking at things from the wrong perspective.

Figure 116-1 shows the satellite image of the domes surrounding the Macondo site. The rectangular box (5 x 6 km) is the outline of the Macondo site. You will see that wells A, B and S20BC are all concentrated on the tiny red dot at the middle of a convex edge of the “L-shaped” escarpment which is approximately 12 km by 5.5 km.

There are probably some good geological reasons for this odd shape “low rise (BP’s assessment)” escarpment but that is the subject matter for future discussion. Even from the reconnaissance satellite image, the terrain can be seen to slope down from the point marked X. Whether we call this a cone, dome or just plain escarpment is immaterial, since the whole “escarpment” is by itself a raised landform. Raised landform is either “the seafloor manifestation of some underlying geological events or continuing processes” or “a product of erosion where the underlying formation is more resistant than the surrounding”. However the former is more likely given a number of tell tale features.

It is easy to dismiss this “escarpment” as insignificant, given its smaller extent and lower relief than its adjacent giant neighbours; Whiting Dome, Gloria Dome and Michell Dome. But a “mound” with a radius of 3 to 4.5 km and a height exceeding 500 ft (150m) is not insignificant by most geohazards assessment standards. The worst possible well location could not have been chosen for Well A, Well B and S20BC, even on the basis of this satellite imagery reconnaissance.

In my opinion, the erroneous and fraudulent Macondo bathymetry had a terribly misleading effect. Anyone looking at the highly smoothened Macondo bathymetry would be inclined to think that well A, Well B and S20BC were located on a gentle uniform slope. But the “smoothened seafloor morphology” belies the apparent sharp transition from sloping to flat seafloor, the distinct convex outline of the base of the escarpment and the 3º general slope.

Figure 116-2 shows the satellite image background with the superimposed Macondo bathymetry. The discrepancies are startling even to the untrained eyes. The dark blue shadows conjure an image of an irregular raised landform, possibly faulted close to the seafloor. An MBES (multi-beam echo sounder) image acquired at 50 m above the seabed would have yielded a lot of seabed features (not featureless as asserted by BP) that could have averted the terrible Oil Spill Disaster. This disaster need not have happened. It could have been easily averted given due diligence in the geohazards assessment.

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5 Responses to BP’s Flawed Bathymetry Set The Stage for Macondo Blowout

  1. Commander Z says:

    According to Mr. Lim the BOP was blown off the the well head on April 20 and then re-installed on Well A to be shown as the fake well. Why then is not the BOP that we all know and love (LOL) and which is now on the surface NOT showing any obvious damage from such a tremendous blow out and fall???

    • BK Lim says:

      Commander Z,
      Getting blown off or fallen off, does not necessary break the BOP into pieces or damage it into a twisted wreck like in a car accident. The soft seabed in the vicinity of the wellhead suffered more damage (reason for the seabed crater) than highly rated steel assembly. The BOP assembly tightly secured on the well head probably survived the impact intact but fell over with the bent riser. This is also the reason why the riser was bent, since it was stationary when the BOP suddenly thrust upwards. We often used the word “blown off” quite loosely. In this case it was blown off intact like a projectile rather than “cracking open or blown to pieces”. There is some resistance from the sea water but not the hard knocks to cause any dents especially to the BOP which I suppose had to be constructed robustly to withstand very high pressure and knocks. Otherwise it would not be a BOP. Just imagine the well bore (with the steel casing) like a gun barrel.

  2. Emery says:

    As with everything concerning the Macondo well site, who knows what the hell we are looking at or what is really going on down there. Anyone that believes BP or the US government is a gullible fool…….. They have both been lying to us from the beginning. Why should we believe them now? Corexit is on the way into our ecosystem and food chain. It is a lethal poison. What they have done is criminal.

    “Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

    There’s your New World Order and the corruption of power and money.

  3. Pingback: BP’s Flawed Bathymetry Set The Stage for Macondo Blowout « thefloridianguy.com

  4. michelle says:

    maybe it’s hard for bloggers to prove their news with the bright showmanship of Fox news, not to mention whitleblowers die and bloggers buried with a media blitz campaign. Give these guys some credit, hey man, I think you’re being killed. other guy, prove it, as he is choking.

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