Marine incident response to mitigate, manage and monitor marine incidents

Our scientists are combining decades of knowledge in oil spill response with advanced research to provide the multidisciplinary expertise and technology to mitigate, manage and monitor marine incidents.

The Challenge

Marine incidents can have serious impacts

Marine incidents such as oil spills from ships or offshore oil and gas projects can result in serious environmental impacts.

An offshore oil and gas drilling platform

While our main objective is to develop the knowledge and technology to prevent marine incidents and understand pre-spill ecosystems, should an incident strike: we are prepared.

Response decisions have to be made under high pressure, quickly, so we've developed a rapid response monitoring team to provide responders with a detailed understanding of the impacts.

Our Response

CSIRO technologies for mitigating marine incidents


BLUElink ocean forecasting technology was used to coordinate response operations to the Montara wellhead oil spill in August 2009. Accurate information on ocean and weather conditions is crucial to predict the movement of a slick and its likely environmental impact.

Hydrocarbon sensor arrays

Hydrocarbon sensor arrays can be used to monitor the movement of hydrocarbons during an oil spill. In 2010, the initial prototype tracked the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Hydrocarbon Fingerprinting

Hydrocarbons have ‘fingerprints’, or unique signatures, which can identify whether they are from natural or anthropogenic sources. This is particulary useful in oil spill remediation.


PIPEASSURE is an adhesive composite material that can protect and repair damaged oil and gas pipelines. PIPEASSURE can reduce hydrocarbon pollution in the marine environment.

The Hydrates flow loop

The Hydrates flow loop is helping to prevent pipeline blockages by simulating deep-sea conditions to evaluate hydrate formation and behaviour in subsea oil and gas pipelines.

Microbial degradation

Some naturally occurring microbes have the ability to breakdown down oil. Our microbiologists have developed new genomic tools to identify and quantify hydrocarbon-degrading microbial communities and determine their capacity to respond to oil spills.


Biomarkers are indicators of oil exposure, or the effects of that exposure in aquatic organisms. When coupled with baseline data, these measures allow us to predict the scope of exposure, impact, and determine when systems have returned to “normal” status.

Dispersant assessment tools

We're developing tools to differentiate between the effects of oil, dispersed oil and dispersants on living organisms. We can identify and evaluate toxicity sources to provide stakeholders with information to make decisions about dispersants.

Ecotoxicological assessments

Toxicity tests (bioassays) assess the bioavailability and potential impact of contaminants in the marine environment. This information provides stakeholders with the knowledge to direct resources into monitoring and management efforts.

Ecogenomic approaches towards community composition analysis

Our oceans are inhabited by complex, interweaving systems of organisms. By obtaining DNA “fingerprints” for communities, we can quickly detect changes due to contamination.

Case study


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