Talk:Marine Discussion


Discussion Page for the BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico


The ongoing and uncontrolled release of oil from the Macondo well into the Gulf of Mexico, which began on April 20th, represents an ecological and economic crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Unlike most oil spills, which are predominantly two-dimensional surface events, this event has a distinctly three-dimensional character. This is partly due to the extreme conditions and chemistry that prevail at the well depth of 5000 feet (e.g. very high pressure and low temperature), the complex 3D pathways as oil travels over that distance and also because the heavy use of chemical dispersants has resulted in smaller droplets that rise very slowly. Largely due to the 3D character of this event, currently available models are not well-suited for predicting how this oil will move throughout the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. Indeed, the large plumes of oil that have been detected lingering at depths of 1500 and 3000 feet were not predicted by existing models (to our knowledge) and are still very poorly understood. These plumes represent an enormous volume of oil (estimated at roughly 4 miles by 10 miles by 600 feet), the ultimate fate of which is difficult to predict. As of June 3, 2010, all efforts to stop the flow from the Macondo well have failed and the "cut and cap" effort is underway.  Two relief wells (3 miles below the seafloor) are also in progress but, if successful, are not expected to be completed until August 2010.

The purpose of this discussion page is to share information regarding this event that may be useful to CSDMS members who have an interest in modeling various aspects of it.  For example, the NSF is making Rapid Response Research Grants (RAPID) available now for Gulf of Mexico oil spill research, see:

There are two leading "deep-water blowout" models which model the complex physics of deep-water releases of oil and gas such as this.  They are called CDOG written by Prof. P. Yapa and colleagues and DeepBlow,written by Dr. Oistein Johansen.  Unfortunately, neither of these is an open-source model. Both of them are driven by ocean currents from a hydrodynamic ocean model. See the References section below for more info. Prof. Yapa will be chairing a special "impromptu" meeting on the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill on June 24th, during the 6th International Symposium on Environmental Hydraulics in Athens, Greece. See for more information.

CSDMS hosted a telecon on May 26th at 1 pm to discuss how our community can contribute to efforts to model the oil spill and its environmental impact.

Model Forecasts and Animations

USF Ocean Circulation Group - Model Runs for the Gulf Oil Spill (Various Depths and Models)

NOAA Office of Response and Restoration - Deepwater Horizon Incident Page & Current Trajectory Maps
    long link, click here.

NCAR - Ocean currents likely to carry oil up Atlantic coast (July 3, 2010)

List of Model Websites


CDOG Model:


DeepBlow Model:

FVCOM Model:

GNOME Model (from NOAA):
    long link, click here

HYCOM Model:

LTRANS Model (Larval TRANSport Lagrangian model)

NCOM Model:

NearCoM Model(s):

NOMADS (NOAA Operational Model Archive and Distribution System):

POP (Parallel Ocean Program, used by NCAR):

ROMS Model:

RTOFS (Atlantic) Model (uses HYCOM):

SABGOM Model (South Atlantic Bight and Gulf of Mexico, uses ROMS):

SHORECIRC Model (in NearCoM):

SLOSH Model (used by National Hurricane Center)

SINTEF Models (DeepBlow, DREAM, OSCAR, ParTrack, Statmap, etc.)

VISJET Model (University of Hong Kong):

Online Oil Spill Data




Water column measurements by several vessels

NOAA Websites and Resources

NOAA Incident News Page - Deepwater Horizon Incident

NOAA Office of Response and Restoration - Deepwater Horizon Incident Page & Current Trajectory Maps
    long link, click here.

NOAA Office of Response and Restoration - Software and Data Sets Page
     long link, click here

    long link, click here

NOAA's National Hurricane Center:

Relevant Images and Movies

BP's website with numerous links and a live video feed:

CNN's interactive oil spill tracker (based on satellite imagery)

USF Ocean Circulation Group - Loop Current Simulation for 1 Month
    (click here to play full-res animation):
     GOM hycom movie 30d.gif

Map of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico : (click here for full-resolution)

     Oil Rig Locations.jpg

Oil pipelines and platforms in the Gulf of Mexico (click here for full-resolution)
     Gulf of mexico mess.jpg

Other Relevant Websites

Minerals Management Service Home Page

Deepwater Horizon Response - Official Site of the Deepwater Horizon Unified Command

CNN's Gulf Coast Oil Disaster website

Texas A & M University Library - Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill Page
(Many links to other online resources.)

NASA Imagery of the Oil Spill:

ESRI Interactive Map for Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill

UNC Coastal Circulation and Transport Page:

Articles and Blogs

May 4, 2010: Washington Post - More Worst-Case Scenarios in Gulf Oil Spill
(With quotes from Dr. Rober Weisberg)

May 5, 2010: Washington Post - After Gulf Coast oil spill, scientists envision devastation for region

May 18, 2010: NY Times - Environment - The Oil and the Loop Current

May 18, 2010: TreeHugger Blog: Loop Current Now Dragging Gulf Oil Disaster Towards Florida Keys

May 25, 2010: Blowout simulations and "trapping depth"

May 26, 2010: Plans for 3D modeling of oil spill using ADCIRC
     long link, click here.

June 1, 2010: 3 Questions: John Marshall on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

June 3, 2010:  NCAR - Ocean currents likely to carry oil up Atlantic coast

June 3, 2010: BP hits 'milestone' in capping well, but more work ahead

July 1, 2010: Hurricane could suspend oil capping for two weeks

July 1, 2010: World's largest skimmer arrives in Gulf as Alex disrupts oil cleanup

May 13, 2014: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and its Aftermath

May 13, 2014: What You Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish

Relevant Publications

Adams, E. and S. Socolofsky (2005) Review of Deep Oil Spill Modeling Activity supported by the DeepSpill JIP and Offshore Operators Committee.

Bigalke, N.K., L.I. Enstad, G. Rehder, G. Alendal (2010) Terminal velocities of pure and hydrate coated CO2 droplets and CH4 bubbles rising in a simulated oceanic environment, Deep Sea Research Part I: Oceanographic Research Papers, in press, accepted manuscript available online June 1, 2010.

Chen, F., and P. Yapa. 2007. Estimating the oil droplet size distribution in deepwater oil spills, J. Hydr Engrg. 133: 197-207.

Clift, R., J. Grace, and M. Weber (1978) Bubbles, drops and particles. Academic Press, NY.

Dasanayaka, L.K. and P.D. Yapa (2009) Role of plume dynamics phase in a deepwater oil and gas release model, Journal of Hydro-environment Research, 2(4), 243-253. (PDF file)

He, R. and R. H. Weisberg. 2002. Tides on the west Florida shelf, Journal of Physical Oceanography, 32, 12, 3455-3473.

Johansen, O. (2000) DeepBlow - A Lagrangian plume model for deep water blowouts, Spill Science & Technology Bull., 6(2), 103-111.(PDF file)

Johansen, O (2003) Development and verification of deep-water blowout models. Marine Pollution Bulletin 47: 360-368

Johansen, O., H. Rye and C. Cooper (2003) DeepSpill - Field study of a simulated oil and gas blowout in deep water, Spill Science and Technology Bull., 8(5-6), 433-443. (PDF file)

Masutani, S., and E. Adams. 2000. Experimental study of multiphase plumes with application to deep ocean oil spills. Final report to U.S. Dept of Interior, Minerals Management Service. Contract No. 1435-01-98-CT-30946.

Michel, J. and J.A. Galt (1995) Conditions under which floating slicks can sink in marine settings, In: Proc. 1995 Intl. Oil Spill Conf., API Publ. No. 4620, American Petroleum Institute, Wash. D.C. pp. 573-576.

NRC (2005) Oil spill dispersants: efficacy and effects. National Research Coucil of the National Academies. The National Academies Press, Washington, DC.,

Peckham, S.D. (2008) A new method for estimating suspended sediment concentrations and deposition rates from satellite imagery based on the physics of plumes, Computers & Geosciences, 34, 1198-1222. (PDF file) Please Note: This paper is for 2D jets and plumes (a river entering the sea), but reviews many key concepts that can be extended to 3D plumes.

Socolofsky, S. and E. Adams (2002) Multiphase plumes in uniform and stratified crossflow. J. Hydr. Res., 40: 661-672.

Socolofsky, S. and E. Adams (2003) Liquid volume fluxes in stratified multiphase plumes. J. Hydr. Engrg. 129: 906-914.

Visser, A.W. (1997) Using random walk models to simulate the vertical distribution of particles in a turbulent water column. Marine Ecology Progress Series 158: 275–281.

Yapa, P. and L. Zheng (1999) Simulation of oil spills from underwater accidents I: model development. J. Hyrd. Res 35: 673-687.

Zhang, Xue-Yong (1995) Ocean outfall modeling - Interfacing near and far field models with particle tracking method, PhD thesis, Dept. of Civil and Environ. Engineering, MIT. (PDF file).

Zheng, L., and P. Yapa (200) Buoyant velocity of spherical and nonspherical bubbles/droplets. J. Hydr. Engrg. 126: 852-854.

Zheng, L., P.D. Yapa and F. Chen (2002) A model for simulating deepwater oil and gas blowouts - Part I. Theory and model formulation, Journal of Hydraulic Research, 41(4), 339-351. (PDF file)

Created by S. Peckham on June 3, 2010.
Last update: May 13, 2014.