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The Texas Automated Buoy System (TABS) is a coastal network of buoys designed to gather data and provide real-time information on surface currents and wind specifically for oil spill preparedness and response. Maintained for the Texas General Land Office by Texas A&M University, TABS is used to help create trajectory models that predict the movement of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico.  Created more than a decade ago, it remains the only system in the country to collect this kind of critical information.  

TABS buoys provide current measurements every three hours under normal conditions and hourly during spill events.


Texas Automated Buoy System variants

  • Far left: Platform for testing new sensors that might be added to current or future TABS buoys. All current buoys have radar reflectors and warning lights powered by solar cells.
  • Middle two buoys: Current standard buoy types in the TABS system. These variants are 25-feet long from top to bottom, about 3-feet wide, and weigh about 1,000 pounds.
  • Far right: The original TABS buoy. This model was 16-feet long, about 2.5-feet wide and weighed about 600 pounds.

TABS can be accessed via Texas A&M University College of Geosciences. This site allows the user to easily "point-and-click" on a buoy map to pull up a graph or data from the latest current measurements.

Click to enlarge buoy graphic

The TABS program also includes a forecast modeling and analysis component which is updated daily by Texas A&M. This program keeps a computer simulation known as the Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) in continuous operation and is crucial during spill events.

In addition to its vital role in predicting where an oil spill is going, TABS has been used by the Coast Guard for search-and-rescue missions. In 2002, two buoys were loaned to the U.S. Navy to help retrieve the Ehime Maru, a Japanese vessel that was accidentally sunk by a U.S. submarine off the coast of Hawaii.

Links to Additional Resources

External Links


Steve Buschang
State Scientific Support Coordinator
512.475.1560 (FAX)
Steve Buschang
Dr. Anthony Hayden Knapp
Geochemical and Environmental Research, Texas A&M University
833 Graham Road
College Station, Texas 77845-9668
979.862.2323 ext. 111
979.862.2361 (FAX)