Skip Links

USGS - science for a changing world

Open-File Report 2011–1098

U.S. Geological Survey Protocol for Sample Collection in Response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico, 2010

Sampling Methods for Water, Sediment, Benthic Invertebrates, and Microorganisms in Coastal Environments

By Franceska D. Wilde and Stanley C. Skrobialowski


Thumbnail of and link to report PDF (4.45 MB)

In response to the potential for environmental damage from a massive release of oil to the Gulf of Mexico caused by failure of the Macondo-1 well and explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientists collected environmental data at 70 sites along the Gulf coast during May/June and October 2010. This report describes the protocols and sampling methods that were developed for USGS field teams responding to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and augments the USGS National Field Manual for the Collection of Water-Quality Data (, which provides the basis for informing and training personnel in the use of standard USGS field practices.

The information included in this report pertains to how the sampling of water, sediment, benthic invertebrates, and microorganisms was conducted before and after shoreline arrival of petroleum products, while addressing the regulatory, logistical, and legal requirements associated with field work in oil-impacted coastal areas. The guidance covered by this protocol includes field-deployment preparations, health and safety precautions, sampling and quality-assurance procedures, and decontamination requirements performed under the strictures of chain-of-custody and working under potentially hazardous environmental conditions. Information published previously in Open-File Report 2010–1191 has been updated in this report.

First posted May 20, 2011

Supersedes USGS Open-File Report 2010–1191

For additional information contact:
Franceska Wilde or Stan Skrobialowski
U.S. Geological Survey
12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, MS 412
Reston, Virginia 20192

Part or all of this report is presented in Portable Document Format (PDF); the latest version of Adobe Reader or similar software is required to view it. Download the latest version of Adobe Reader, free of charge.

Suggested citation:

Wilde, F.D. and Skrobialowski, S.C.., 2011, U.S. Geological Survey protocol for sample collection in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Gulf of Mexico, 2010: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2011–1098, 178 p. Available only online at (Supersedes USGS Open-File Report 2010–1191.)



1.0 Development of the Post-Landfall Sampling Protocol

2.0 Preparations for Sampling at Oil-Contaminated Sites

3.0 Safety in Field Activities

4.0 Site Setup and Decontamination

5.0 Multiparameter Sondes: Preparation, Deployment, and Cleaning Procedures

6.0 Collection of Field Measurements and Water Samples

7.0 Sediment Samples

8.0 Chain of Custody and Documentation Requirements: Labeling, Packaging, and Shipping

9.0 Quality Assurance and Quality Control for Field Sampling

10.0 Selected References

11.0 Acronyms, Abbreviations, and Chemical Symbols

Appendix A. Collection of Baseline Samples in Response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Location of Pre- and Post-Landfall Sampling Sites

Appendix B. Field Supplies Recommended for the October 2010 Oil-Spill Sampling.

Appendix C. Research Methods

Appendix D. Post-Landfall Shipping Requirements for Water and Sediment Samples

Appendix E. Health and Safety

Appendix F. Examples of a Field Form and Analytical Services Request and Chain of Custody Forms Specific to USGS Sampling in Response to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Appendix G. Manufacturer Guidance for Use of Multiparameter Sondes in Oil-Contaminated Waters

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http:// /pubs/of/2011/1098/index.html
Page Contact Information: USGS Publications Team
Page Last Modified: Wednesday, 07-Dec-2016 23:40:17 EST