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Geophysical Monograph Series



  • wave-induced diffusion
  • Stokes' drift
  • oil spill tracking
  • sea surface
  • diffusion coefficients
  • filaments

Index Terms

  • 4251 Oceanography: General: Marine pollution
  • 4255 Oceanography: General: Numerical modeling
  • 4260 Oceanography: General: Ocean data assimilation and reanalysis
  • 3099 Marine Geology and Geophysics: General or miscellaneous



On the Effects of Wave-Induced Drift and Dispersion in the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Eugenio Pugliese Carratelli

Fabio Dentale

Ferdinando Reale

Maritime Engineering Division University of Salerno, Department of Civil Engineering, Fisciano, Salerno, Italy

The objective of this work is to provide an indication of the effects of wave-induced movement of oil on the sea surface in connection with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. By making use of modeled wave fields, satellite altimeter, and buoy data, mean trajectories and wave-induced oil spreading are computed for some of the storm events which took place during the accident. The effects of mean Stokes' drift are confirmed to be an important element in most situations, causing spill movements of 30 km and more in about 5 days. The diffusion due to random wave movement is also shown to be relevant at least for smaller spills; for large accidents, its effects are less important, but it still has an influence on some aspects of the oil spreading.

Citation: Pugliese Carratelli, E., F. Dentale, and F. Reale (2011), On the effects of wave-induced drift and dispersion in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in Monitoring and Modeling the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: A Record-Breaking Enterprise, Geophys. Monogr. Ser., vol. 195, edited by Y. Liu et al., pp. 197–204, AGU, Washington, D. C., doi:10.1029/2011GM001109.


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