Detection of Wakashio oil spill off Mauritius using Sentinel-1 and 2 data: Capability of sensors, image transformation methods and mapping

Sankaran Rajendran*, Ponnumony Vethamony, Fadhil N. Sadooni, Hamad Al Saad Al-Kuwari, Jassim A. Al-Khayat, Vashist O. Seegobin, Himanshu Govil, Sobhi Nasir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Oil spill incidents contaminate water bodies, and damage the coastal and marine environment including coral reefs and mangroves, and therefore, monitoring the oil spills is highly important. This study discriminates the Wakashio oil spill, which occurred off Mauritius, located in the Indian Ocean on August 06, 2020 using the Sentinel-1 and 2 data acquired before, during and after the spill to understand the spreading of the spill and assess its impact on the coastal environment. The interpretation of VV polarization images of Synthetic-Aperture Radar (SAR) C-band (5.404 GHz) of Sentinel-1 acquired between July 5 and September 3, 2020 showed the occurrence and distribution of oil spill as dark warped patches. The images of band ratios (5 + 6)/7, (3 + 4)/2, (11 + 12)/8 and 3/2, (3 + 4)/2, (6 + 7)/5 of the Sentinel-2 data detected the oil spill. The images of decorrelated spectral bands 4, 3 and 2 distinguished the very thick, thick and thin oil spills in a different tone and showed clearly their distribution over the lagoon and offshore, and the accumulation of spilled oil on the coral reefs and along the coast. The distribution of post-oil spill along the coast was interpreted using the images acquired after 21 August 2020. The accuracy of oil spill mapping was assessed by classifying the SAR-C data and decorrelated images of the MultiSpectral Instrument (MSI) data using the Parallelepiped supervised algorithm and confusion matrix. The results showed that the overall accuracy is on an average 91.72 and 98.77%, and Kappa coefficient 0.84 and 0.96, respectively. The satellite-derived results were validated with field studies. The MSI results showed the occurrence and spread of oil spill having different thicknesses, and supported the results of SAR. This study demonstrated the capability of Sentinel sensors and the potential of image processing methods to detect, monitor and assess oil spill impact on environment. Sentinel-2 MSI optical spectral bands are capable of detecting thickness of oil spill monitoring marine oil spill and assessing their impacts. The outcomes support the results of Sentinel-1 SAR band.

Original languageEnglish
Article number116618
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2021


  • Image processing methods
  • Indian Ocean
  • Mauritius
  • Sentinel data
  • Thickness of oil spill
  • Wakashio oil spill

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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