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Proceedings Paper

Locating spilled oil with airborne laser fluorosensors
Author(s): Carl E. Brown; Mervin F. Fingas; Robert D. Nelson; Joseph V. Mullin
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Paper Abstract

Locating oil in marine and terrestrial environments is a daunting task. There are commercially available off the shelf (COTS) sensors with a wide field-of-view (FOV) which can be used to map the overall extent of the spill. These generic sensors, however, lack the specificity required to positively identify oil and related products. The problem is exacerbated along beach and shoreline environments where a variety of organic and inorganic substrates are present. One sensor that can detect and classify oil in these environments is the laser fluorosensor. Laser fluorosensors have been under development by several agencies around the world for the past two decades. Environment Canada has been involved with laser fluorosensor development since the early 1990s. The prototype system was known as the Laser Environmental Airborne Fluorosensor (LEAF). The LEAF has recently been modified to provide real-time oil spill detection and classification. Fluorescence spectra are collected and analyzed at the rate of 100 Hz. Geo-referenced maps showing the locations of oil contamination are produced in real-time onboard the aircraft. While the LEAF has proven to be an excellent prototype sensor and a good operational tool, it has some deficiencies when it comes to oil spill response operations. A consortium including Environment Canada and the Minerals Management Service has recently funded the development of a new fluorosensor, called the Scanning Laser Environmental Airborne Fluorosensor (SLEAF). The SLEAF was designed to detect and map oil in shoreline environments where other non-specific sensors experience difficulty. Oil tends to pile up in narrow bands along the high tide line on beaches. A nadir-looking, small footprint sensor such as the LEAF would have difficulty locating oil in this situation. The SLEAF employs a pair of conical scanning mirrors to direct the laser beam in a circular pattern below the aircraft. With a sampling rate of 400 Hz and real-time spectral analysis, the SLEAF will detect and map oil contamination in marine and coastal environments. The SLEAF will confirm or reject suspected oil contamination sites that have been targeted by the generic sensors. This confirmation will release response crews from the time-consuming task of physically inspecting each site and instead direct crews to sites that require remediation.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 February 1999
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 3534, Environmental Monitoring and Remediation Technologies, (10 February 1999); doi: 10.1117/12.339041
Show Author Affiliations
Carl E. Brown, Environment Canada (Canada)
Mervin F. Fingas, Environment Canada (Canada)
Robert D. Nelson, Environment Canada (Canada)
Joseph V. Mullin, U.S. Minerals Management Service (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 3534:
Environmental Monitoring and Remediation Technologies
Tuan Vo-Dinh; Robert L. Spellicy, Editor(s)

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