A Review on Multiphase Underwater Jets and Plumes: Droplets, Hydrodynamics, and Chemistry

Michel C. Boufadel, Scott Socolofsky, Joseph Katz, Di Yang, Cosan Daskiran, William Dewar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Jets and plumes have been the focus of quantitative investigations since the mid-1950s. These investigations intensified following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, in which thousands of tons of oil and natural gas were released into the Gulf of Mexico. This review focuses on plume dynamics that apply to both single-phase and multiphase liquid-in-liquid and liquid plus gas into liquid plumes, including bubble and droplet formation, and heat and mass transfer. Broadly, our work highlights several previously unknown or overlooked aspects of multiphase flow in the deep oceans. Upstream of the jet release, multiphase hydraulics can significantly affect the turbulence, for instance, through churn flow that enhances the turbulence in the free jet, affecting the conditions where bubbles and droplets are formed. Droplet formation was a major focus recently, with experiments covering a range of scales and flow rates of oil and gas at low and high pressure. Detailed observations of droplet formation at the jet-water boundary reveal the formation of compound droplets, which are emulsions of oil and water with implications for mass conservation and mass transfer. At the plume scale, integral models have been adapted to include the complex thermodynamics and chemistry of oil and gas plumes. In parallel, significant advances were made in numerical simulations of multiphase plumes through large eddy simulations by treating the oil and gas either a continuous or discrete phase. Through this work, a vivid picture of the complex droplet, chemical, and hydrodynamic behavior of multiphase plumes in the ocean is emerging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020RG000703
JournalReviews of Geophysics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics


  • Deepwater Horizon
  • churn flow
  • droplet size
  • integral model
  • jets/plumes
  • large eddy simulation


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