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Nearfield dynamics of accidental oil well blowout plumes and natural gas seeps in the oceans

  • Room 112, O&M Building (map)


This presentation will summarize recent work by Dr. Socolofsky’s research group funding by the BP/Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative on near field dynamics of oil and gas in the deep ocean.  Work supported by the Gulf Integrated Spill Research (GISR) consortium has focused on laboratory and field observations of gas bubble plumes.  In the laboratory, the work resulted in quantification of the turbulent energy balance in a bubble plume, which is critical to predict the oil droplet and gas bubble size in an accidental oil well blowout.  In larger laboratory experiments in the field, observations studied the rise velocity and spreading dynamics of natural gas seep plumes.  This work includes cruises to seeps in MC 118 and GC 600 in 2014 and 2015.  These observations support CFD style numerical modeling within GISR and other GoMRI funded projects.   Numerical modeling in Socolofsky’s research group has focused on bubble- and droplet-scale heat and mass transfer and integral plume modeling of the blowout plume.  This work has developed a new approach for predicting the influence of clathrate hydrate skins on mass transfer for natural gas bubbles in the deep ocean.  The plume models also provide a tool to help understand what the oil droplet size distribution may have been during the Deepwater Horizon accident and the effects of subsea chemical dispersant addition.