Mississippi Canyon
The Mississippi Canyon is an undersea canyon
Submarine canyon
A submarine canyon is a steep-sided valley on the sea floor of the continental slope. Many submarine canyons are found as extensions to large rivers; however there are some that have no such association. Canyons cutting the continental slopes have been found at depths greater than 2 km below sea...

 in the Central Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

, south of Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

. According to the U.S. Geological Survey
United States Geological Survey
The United States Geological Survey is a scientific agency of the United States government. The scientists of the USGS study the landscape of the United States, its natural resources, and the natural hazards that threaten it. The organization has four major science disciplines, concerning biology,...

 GLORIA Mapping Program, it is the dominant feature of the north-central Gulf of Mexico. According to GCAGS Transactions, it has an average width of 8 kilometres (5 mi), and a length of 120 kilometres (74.6 mi). The US Minerals Management Service
Minerals Management Service
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement , formerly known as the Minerals Management Service , was an agency of the United States Department of the Interior that managed the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf...

 (MMS) applies the name Mississippi Canyon to numbered federal oil and gas lease blocks over a large offshore area centered on, but mostly outside, the submarine canyon.

Oil and gas exploration and production

According to "Deepwater Gulf of Mexico 2004: America's Expanding Frontier", a report issued by the Minerals Management Service (MMS) Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, of the ten deepwater discoveries in water depths greater than 7,000 ft (2,134 m), three were in the Mississippi Canyon area: Aconcagua project, area/block MC305, 7379 ft (2,249.1 m) deep; and Camden Hills project, MC348, 7530 ft (2,295.1 m) deep, both discovered in 1999; and Blind Faith project, MC696, 7116 ft (2,169 m) deep, discovered in 2001. In a separate section of the same report, note is made of acreage in the Thunder Horse project, MC778, acquired in 1988. Other projects noted for Mississippi Canyon include Thunder Horse areas/blocks MC775-778 and MC819-822, listed as completed grid PEA (programmatic environmental assessment) by BP.

An MMS list of 80 development systems of productive deepwater Gulf of Mexico projects from 1979 to 2003 includes 29 projects in the Mississippi Canyon area:

Year of 1st
Project NameOperatorBlockWater
Depth ft.
System Type
1979CognacShellMC1941,023Fixed Platform
1984LenaExxonModilMC2801,000Compliant Tower
1991AmberjackBPMC1091,100Fixed Platform
1993DiamondKerr McGeeMC4452,095Subsea
2002Camden HillsMarathonMC3487,216Subsea
2002Horn MountainBPMC1275,400Spar
2003East Anstey/Na KikaShellMC6076,590FPS/Subsea
2003Fourier/Na KikaShellMC5226,950FPS/Subsea
2003Herschel/Na KikaShellMC5206,739FPS/Subsea

Five of the top 20 deepwater Gulf of Mexico procuction blocks for 2000-01 were in the Mississippi Canyon, including the top 2: Project Mars, 2933 feet (894 m) deep, 137 Moilbbl of oil equivalent (BOE); project Ursa, 3800 feet (1,158.2 m) deep, 93 Moilbbl of BOE; project Mensa, 5280 feet (1,609.3 m), 27 Moilbbl of BOE; Cognac, 1023 feet (311.8 m), 23 Moilbbl of BOE; Crosby, 4259 feet (1,298.1 m), 18 Moilbbl of BOE, all managed by Shell.

Deepwater Horizon explosion

On April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon
Deepwater Horizon
Deepwater Horizon was an ultra-deepwater, dynamically positioned, semi-submersible offshore oil drilling rig owned by Transocean. Built in 2001 in South Korea by Hyundai Heavy Industries, the rig was commissioned by R&B Falcon, which later became part of Transocean, registered in Majuro, Marshall...

 oil platform
Oil platform
An oil platform, also referred to as an offshore platform or, somewhat incorrectly, oil rig, is a lаrge structure with facilities to drill wells, to extract and process oil and natural gas, and to temporarily store product until it can be brought to shore for refining and marketing...

, located in the MMS Mississippi Canyon block 252, which is about 40 miles (64.4 km) off the Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

 coast, suffered a catastrophic explosion
Deepwater Horizon oil spill
The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico which flowed unabated for three months in 2010, and continues to leak fresh oil. It is the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry...

; it sank a day-and-a-half later. Although initial reports indicated that relatively little oil had leaked, by April 27 it was stated by BP that approximately 5000 barrels (794.9 m³) of oil per day were issuing from the wellhead
A wellhead is a general term used to describe the component at the surface of an oil or gas well that provides the structural and pressure-containing interface for the drilling and production equipment....

, 1 miles (1.6 km) below the surface on the ocean floor. The resulting oil slick
Oil spill
An oil spill is the release of a liquid petroleum hydrocarbon into the environment, especially marine areas, due to human activity, and is a form of pollution. The term is mostly used to describe marine oil spills, where oil is released into the ocean or coastal waters...

 quickly expanded to cover hundreds of square miles of ocean surface, posing a threat to marine life and adjacent coastal wetlands
Salt marsh
A salt marsh is an environment in the upper coastal intertidal zone between land and salt water or brackish water, it is dominated by dense stands of halophytic plants such as herbs, grasses, or low shrubs. These plants are terrestrial in origin and are essential to the stability of the salt marsh...

. On June 10, the Flow Rate Group from the Deepwater Horizon Incident Joint Information Center reported that they have determined that the estimated flow rate from the out of control well head has been 20000 barrels (3,179.7 m³) to 40000 barrels (6,359.5 m³) per day. http://www.deepwaterhorizonresponse.com/go/doc/2931/627011/

External links

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