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Detection of Oil in Ice and Snow

Spill Science, Edmonton, Alberta T6W 1J6, Canada
Emergencies Science and Technology Section, Environment Canada, Ottawa K1A 0H3, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2013, 1(1), 10-20;
Received: 23 October 2013 / Revised: 7 November 2013 / Accepted: 7 November 2013 / Published: 22 November 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Strategies for Oil Detection and Remediation in the Arctic Ocean)
PDF [544 KB, uploaded 25 November 2013]


The response to a major oil spill can be challenging in temperate climates and with good weather conditions. By contrast, a major spill in or under ice and snow, presents a whole new series of challenges. This paper reviews detection technologies for these challenging situations. A number of acoustic techniques have been tried in test tank situations and it was found that acoustic detection of oil was possible because oil behaves as a solid in acoustic terms and transmits shear waves. Laboratory tests have been carried out and a prototype was built and tested in the field. Radio frequency methods, such as ground penetrating radar (GPR), have been tested for both oil-under-ice and oil-under-snow. The GPR method does not provide sufficient discrimination for positive oil detection in actual spills. Preliminary tests on the use of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance for detecting oil, in and under ice, shows promise and further work on this is being done at this time. A number of other oil-in-ice detection technologies have been tried and evaluated, including standard acoustic thickness probes, fluorosensor techniques, and augmented infrared detection. Each of these showed potential in theory during tank tests. Further testing on these proposed methods is required. View Full-Text
Keywords: oil-in-ice detection; remote sensing; oil detection; oil in snow and ice; Arctic oil detection oil-in-ice detection; remote sensing; oil detection; oil in snow and ice; Arctic oil detection

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Fingas, M.; Brown, C.E. Detection of Oil in Ice and Snow. J. Mar. Sci. Eng. 2013, 1, 10-20.

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