The Gulf Oil Disaster: One Year Later

One year ago, an explosion rocked the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers, sinking the rig, and releasing a massive amount of crude oil into the ocean. Nearly 4.9 million barrels of oil (200 million gallons) are believed to have leaked into the Gulf, fouling shorelines, crushing local economies, and damaging the environment to an extent that's yet to be fully determined. Studies are ongoing, focused on issues such as dispersant effectiveness and long-term health effects on humans and animals -- and litigation is ongoing, with more than 300 related lawsuits recently consolidated for a trial, beginning in February 2012, that will assign fault in terms of percentages to BP and other companies. Now, one year later, discovering the full extent of the disaster remains difficult, hampered by the scale of the affected area, the volume of the oil and differing explanations of what happened to the bulk of it, and criminal and civil litigation. These images give both a look back and a current view of the area affected by the largest accidental oil spill in history.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Lewis Hine / Library of Congress

    Child Labor in America 100 Years Ago

    In 1908, photographer Lewis Hine traveled across the U.S. to document child laborers and their workplaces. His portraits were used by reformers to drive legislation that would protect young workers or prohibit their employment.

  • Noah Berger / Reuters

    Tinder Dry: An Early Start to Wildfire Season in the West

    Wildfires have already burned more than 1.6 million acres in Alaska this season, and blazes in Washington, Oregon, and bone-dry California have scorched thousands more.

  • David Gray / Reuters

    Australia's Great Barrier Reef at Risk

    The health of the largest living ecosystem on Earth is in danger, and UNESCO World Heritage delegates will announce on Wednesday whether they will place the Great Barrier Reef on a list of endangered World Heritage sites.

  • Joshua Roberts / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 6/20-6/26

    Surfers waiting for a wave at sunset in Chile, the San Juan festival in Spain, erupting volcanoes in Indonesia and Chile, an anti-U.S. rally in North Korea, a gorgeous sunset over Boston’s Fenway Park, celebrations of same-sex marriage supporters in Washington, D.C., and much more.

Join the Discussion