Environmental Modeling & Assessment

, Volume 24, Issue 5, pp 479–494 | Cite as

Protecting Sensitive Coastal Areas with Exclusion Booms during Oil Spill Events

  • Tony GrubesicEmail author
  • Ran Wei
  • Jake Nelson


Oil spills at sea remain a serious threat to coastal settlements and sensitive ecosystems. Although the impacts of spills are contingent upon a variety of environmental factors and the chemical composition of the oil itself, spill effects can be long lasting in the pelagic zone with broad impacts on sensitive bacterial, microbial, plant, and animal communities. Efforts to contain, deflect, protect, and mitigate the effects of oil are increasingly important, given the massive social, economic, and environmental fallout connected to large spills. The purpose of this paper is to provide geographic perspective for protecting coastal areas with exclusion booms during oil spill events. Specifically, we introduce a generalized, extendable, spatial optimization model that simultaneously minimizes spill effects on vulnerable shorelines and the total costs associated with dispatching booms. The multiobjective model is solved with a weighting method to produce a Pareto optimal curve that reveals how the costs and protection operations change under different priorities. A simulated tanker spill near Mobile Bay, AL, USA, is used as an illustrative example.


Oil spill response Optimization Planning Gulf of Mexico Spatial analysis 


Funding Information

This work was supported by the National Academies of Science Gulf Research Program (No. 2000007349).


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center for Spatial Reasoning & Policy AnalyticsArizona State UniversityPhoenixUSA
  2. 2.Center for Geospatial SciencesRiversideUSA

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