The spatiotemporal characteristics of environmental hazards caused by offshore oil and gas operations in the Gulf of Mexico
Marine ecosystems are home to a host of numerous species ranging from tiny planktonic organisms, fishes, and birds, to large mammals such as the whales, manatees, and seals. However, human activities such as offshore oil and gas operations increasingly threaten marine and coastal ecosystems, for which there has been little exploration into the spatial and temporal risks of offshore oil operations. Using the Gulf of Mexico, one of the world's hottest spots of offshore oil and gas mining, as the study area, we propose a spatiotemporal approach that integrates spatial statistics and geostatistics in a geographic information system environment to provide insight to environmental management and decision making for oil and gas operators, coastal communities, local governments, and the federal government. We use the records from 1995 to 2015 of twelve types of hazards caused by offshore oil and gas operations, and analyze them spatially over a five year period. The spatial clusters of these hazards are analyzed and mapped using Getis-Ord Gi and local Moran's I statistics. We then design a spatial correlation coefficient matrix for multivariate spatial correlation, which is the ratio of the cross variogram of two types of hazards to the product of the variograms of the two hazards, showing a primary understanding of the degrees of spatial correlation among the twelve types hazards. To the best of our knowledge, it is the first application of spatiotemporal analysis methods to environmental hazards caused by offshore oil and gas operations; the proposed methods can be applied to other regions for the management and monitoring of environmental hazards caused by offshore oil operations.