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A computer modeling system from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) could boost cleanup efforts for oil spills, such as the Deepwater Horizon disaster from 2010.

That spill killed 11 rig workers and caused a three-month oil dump into the gulf of nearly 2.5 million barrels.

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The modeling system can track the movement of sand and oil particles responders have found in the Gulf of Mexico since the 2010 accident.

The USGS model how surface residual balls (SRBs), a mix of oil and sand, migrate during normal wave conditions and during tropical storms.

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USGS scientist and model guide, P. Soupy Dalyander, said examining the migration of the SRBs can help guide cleanup efforts at other locations in the future — anywhere large amounts of oil and sand mix in the surf zone, she said.

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