The U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said they were able to discern the difference between naturally occurring oil seeps and oil from commercial production off the coast of California.
USGS Director Marcia McNutt explained resource managers have access to the tools needed to differentiate between different types of oil found in waters off the Southern California coast.
"We now have a scientific method that will assist federal and state agencies in determining the source of oil found in the marine environment," BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau said in a statement.
Scientists, as part of a 10-year study, found oil from natural occurring seeps is chemically different than that produced from offshore platforms.
Researchers used biomarkers and carbon isotopes to determine the type of oil found from coastal California.