Geo-Marine Letters

, Volume 23, Issue 3–4, pp 140–146 | Cite as

Natural seepage of crude oil into the marine environment

  • K. A. KvenvoldenEmail author
  • C. K. Cooper


Recent global estimates of crude-oil seepage rates suggest that about 47% of crude oil currently entering the marine environment is from natural seeps, whereas 53% results from leaks and spills during the extraction, transportation, refining, storage, and utilization of petroleum. The amount of natural crude-oil seepage is currently estimated to be 600,000 metric tons per year, with a range of uncertainty of 200,000 to 2,000,000 metric tons per year. Thus, natural oil seeps may be the single most important source of oil that enters the ocean, exceeding each of the various sources of crude oil that enters the ocean through its exploitation by humankind.


Geographic Information System Synthetic Aperture Radar Seepage Rate Slick Thickness Natural Seepage 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We acknowledge with thanks Bruce Rogers (USGS) for the preparation of the figures.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.U.S. Geological SurveyMS 999 Menlo ParkUSA
  2. 2.Chevron Petroleum Technology CompanySan RamonUSA

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