Skip to main content

Natural Oil Slicks in the Southeastern Black Sea

  • Chapter
  • First Online:
The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry


In this chapter we discuss applications of satellite remote sensing for revealing and analyzing of spatial and temporal characteristics of sea surface oil slicks caused by hydrocarbon seeps on the seabed. Hydrocarbon seeps are natural leaks of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbons fed by underground deposits of oil and gas. Faults or fractures in the seabed serve as pathways through which gas bubbles coated with oil are released into the water column. The primary interest in the study of these phenomena is due to the probable existent link between the natural showings of hydrocarbons from the seabed and the presence of oil and gas fields in the area. On the other hand, the natural manifestations of hydrocarbons are permanent sources of pollution, which should be taken into account when assessing the ecological state of the aquatic areas and when studying the synoptic and climatic changes in the ocean.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Institutional subscriptions

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. Kruglyakova RP, Byakov YA, Kruglyakova MV, Chalenko LA, Shevtsova NT (2004) Natural oil and gas seeps on the Black Sea floor. Geo-Mar Lett 24:150–162

    Google Scholar 

  2. Mazzini A, Ivanov MK, Parnell J, Stadnitskaya A, Cronin BT, Poludetkina E, Mazurenko L, van Weering TCE (2004) Methane-related authigenic carbonates from the Black Sea: geochemical characterisation and relation to seeping fluids. Mar Geol 212:153–181

    Google Scholar 

  3. Shnukov EF, Sobolevskiy YV, Kutniy VA (1995) Unusual carbonate buildups at continental slope of the North-Western Black Sea: an apparent consequence of the degassing of sediments. Lithol Miner 5:461–541

    Google Scholar 

  4. Reeburgh W, Ward B, Whalen S, Sandbeck K, Kilpatrickt K, Kerkhof L (1991) Black Sea methane geochemistry. Deep Sea Res Part A 38:1189–1210

    Google Scholar 

  5. Robinson A, Rudat J, Banks C, Wiles R (1996) Petroleum geology of the Black Sea. Mar Pet Geol 13(2):195–223

    Google Scholar 

  6. Jenkins AD, Jacobs SJ (1997) Wave damping by a thin layer of viscous fluid. Phys Fluids 9(5):1256–1264

    Google Scholar 

  7. Mityagina M, Churumov A (2006) Radar backscattering at sea surface covered with oil films. In: Marcal (ed) Global developments in environmental earth observation from space. Millpress, Rotterdam, pp 783–790

    Google Scholar 

  8. Espedal H, Wahl T (1999) Satellite SAR oil spill detection using wind history information. Int J Remote Sens 20(1):49–65

    Google Scholar 

  9. Jackson CR, Alpers W (2010) The role of the critical angle in brightness reversals on sunglint images of the sea surface. J Geophys Res 115(C9).

  10. Daneshgar AS, Dukhovskoy DS, Bourassa M, MacDonald IR (2017) Hindcast modeling of oil slick persistence from natural seeps. Remote Sens Environ 189:96–107

    Google Scholar 

  11. DiGiacomo PM, Washburn L, Holt B, Jones BH (2004) Coastal pollution hazards in southern California observed by SAR imagery: stormwater plumes, wastewater plumes, and natural hydrocarbon seeps. Mar Pollut Bull 49:1013–1024

    Google Scholar 

  12. Espedal HA, Johannessen OM, Knulst J (1996) Satellite detection of natural films on the ocean surface. Geophys Res Lett 23(22):3151–3154

    Google Scholar 

  13. Ivanov AY, Gerivani H, Evtushenko N (2019) Characterization of natural hydrocarbon seepage in the South Caspian Sea off Iran using satellite SAR and geological data. Mar Georesour Geotechnol

    Google Scholar 

  14. Körber JH, Sahling H, Pape T, Ferreira CS, MacDonald I, Bohrmann G (2014) Natural oil seepage at Kobuleti Ridge, Eastern Black Sea. Mar Pet Geol 50:68–82

    Google Scholar 

  15. Mitra DS, Majumdar TJ, Ramakrishnan R, Dave H, Mazumder S (2013) Detection and monitoring of offshore oil seeps using ERS/ENVISAT SAR/ASAR data and seep-seismic studies in Krishna–Godavari offshore basin, India. Geocarto Int 28(5):404–419

    Google Scholar 

  16. De Beukelaer SM, MacDonald IR, Guinnasso NL, Murray JA (2003) Distinct side-scan sonar, RADARSAT SAR, and acoustic profiler signatures of gas and oil seeps on the Gulf of Mexico slope. Geo Mar Lett 23(3):177–186

    Google Scholar 

  17. MacDonald I (1998) Natural oil spills. Sci Am 279:56–61

    Google Scholar 

  18. Mityagina M, Lavrova O (2016) Satellite survey of inner seas: oil pollution in the Black and Caspian Seas. Remote Sens 8:875

    Google Scholar 

  19. Klaucke I, Sahling H, Boerk D, Weinrebe W, Bohrmann G (2005) Mapping deep-water gas emissions with sidescan sonar. EOS (American Geophysical Union Transactions) 86(38):341–346

    Google Scholar 

  20. Klaucke I, Sahling H, Weinrebe W, Blinova V, Boerk D, Lursmanashvili N, Bohrman G (2006) Acoustic investigation of cold seeps offshore Georgia, Eastern Black Sea. Mar Geol 231(1):51–67

    Google Scholar 

  21. Reitz A, Pape T, Haeckel M et al (2011) Sources of fluids and gases expelled at cold seeps offshore Georgia, Eastern Black Sea. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 75:3250–3268

    Google Scholar 

  22. Wagner-Friedrichs M (2007) Seafloor seepage in the Black Sea: mud volcanoes, seeps and diapiric structures imaged by acoustic methods. PhD dissertation, University of Bremen.

  23. Mityagina M, Lavrova O (2018) Oil slicks from natural hydrocarbon seeps in the South-Eastern Black Sea, their drift and fate as observed via remote sensing. Proceed Intern Geosci Remote Sens Sympos (IGARSS)’18, IEEE, Piscataway, pp 7926–7929

    Google Scholar 

  24. Naehr TH, MacDonald IR (2010) Remote sensing and sea-truth measurements of methane flux to the atmosphere (HYFLUX project): quarterly progress report, July–September 2010, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

  25. MacDonald IR, Leifer I, Sassen R, Stine P, Mitchell R, Guinasso N (2002) Transfer of hydrocarbons from natural seeps to the water column and atmosphere. Geofluids 2(2):95–107

    Google Scholar 

  26. MacDonald IR (2008) HYFUX remote sensing and sea-truth measurements of methane flux to the atmosphere DE-NT005638.

  27. MacDonald IR et al (2015) Natural and unnatural oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico. J Geophys Res Oceans 120:8364–8380

    Google Scholar 

  28. Black Sea Data Archive (2017) Satellite altimetry and model data, Geostrophic, surface currents and wind.

  29. NOAA Operational Model Archive and Distribution System.

  30. Kubryakov AA, Stanichny SV (2011) Mean dynamic topography of the Black Sea, computed from altimetry, drifters measurements and hydrology data. Ocean Sci Discuss 8(2):701–722

    Google Scholar 

  31. Evtushenko NV, Ivanov AY (2013) Oil seeps in the Southeastern Black Sea studied using satellite synthetic aperture radar images. Izv Atmos Ocean Phys 49:913–918

    Google Scholar 

  32. Lavrova OY, Mityagina MI (2013) Satellite monitoring of oil slicks on the Black Sea surface. Izv Atmos Oceanic Phys 49(9):897–912

    Google Scholar 

Download references


This research is supported by the “Monitoring” research theme (state registration number Processing of satellite data was carried out by Center for Collective Use “IKI-Monitoring” with the use of “See The Sea” system, that was implemented in frame of theme “Monitoring,” state register no.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Olga Yu Lavrova .

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

About this chapter

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Lavrova, O.Y., Mityagina, M.I. (2020). Natural Oil Slicks in the Southeastern Black Sea. In: The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Published:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg

Publish with us

Policies and ethics