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Synthesis of the Physical Processes in Subsea Bubble Plume to Connect Natural Seeps and Oil Spills

Implementing Organization

Texas A&M University


DWH Project Funding


Known Leveraged Funding


Funding Organization

Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI)

Funding Program

Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative GoMRI Grant Program


Project Category


Project Actions

Physical Aspects Research

Targeted Resources

Hydrocarbon Seeps and Chemosynthetic Communities

Project Description

Natural seeps have been widely used as a proxy in studying oil spills, due to its similar nature to subsea oil spills, i.e., both are hydrocarbon release events in the oceanic environment. However, the physical processes between these two events are not exactly the same, owning to the significant difference of release rate that results in different regimes of characteristic plume scale. As such, understanding the difference and connection between them is critical to appropriately transfer the knowledge of natural seeps to the oil spills. The foremost difference of the fundamental physics between natural seeps and oil spills is the mechanism of ambient water entrainment. The entrainment determines both hydrodynamics and thermodynamics in the plume. This proposed work is an integrated effort, synthesizing existing laboratory and field data obtained from the previously funded GISR consortium, with the purpose to understand the physical processes of multiphase plume under a wide range of release conditions. This study’s main objective is to understand and to quantify the difference and connection of the multiphase plumes for small and large release rates, particularly, natural seeps and oil spills.


Steven F. DiMarco
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