Less than an hour after emergency crews started scrambling to contain the Refugio Oil Spill, Dr. Igor Mezic already had a pretty good idea how and where the crude would spread throughout the Santa Barbara Channel.
And less than four days after the May 19 spill, Mezic, a professor in UCSB's Department of Mechanical Engineering, was fairly confident the fallout would trickle 100 miles south to Manhattan Beach. He was right. Yesterday, Los Angeles officials confirmed tarballs found there match the oily fingerprints of the Refugio disaster.
"My specialty is trying to understand what a current will do with a spill," Mezic explained this week. "I've developed a method that can track any material in or on the ocean. And when I say 'I,' I mean me and my team." That team includes Dr. Sophie Loire and undergrad Patrick Clary. They also collaborated with Brian Emery and Professor Libe Washburn. MORE