Evolution of bubble size distribution from gas blowout in shallow water

Lin Zhao, Michel C. Boufadel, Kenneth Lee, Thomas King, Norman Loney, Xiaolong Geng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


Gas is often emanated from the sea bed during a subsea oil and gas blowout. The size of a gas bubble changes due to gas dissolution in the ambient water and expansion as a result of a decrease in water pressure during the rise. It is important to understand the fate and transport of gas bubbles for the purpose of environmental and safety concerns. In this paper, we used the numerical model, VDROP-J to simulate gas formation in jet/plume upon release, and dissolution and expansion while bubble rising during a relatively shallow subsea gas blowout. The model predictions were an excellent match to the experimental data. Then a gas dissolution and expansion module was included in the VDROP-J model to predict the fate and transport of methane bubbles rising due to a blowout through a 0.10 m vertical orifice. The numerical results indicated that gas bubbles would increase the mixing energy in released jets, especially at small distances and large distances from the orifice. This means that models that predict the bubble size distribution (BSD) should account for this additional mixing energy. It was also found that only bubbles of certain sizes would reach the water surfaces; small bubbles dissolve fast in the water column, while the size of the large bubbles decreases. This resulted in a BSD that was bimodal near the orifice, and then became unimodal.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1573-1599
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Oceanography
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


  • bubble size distribution
  • gas deep spill
  • gas dissolution
  • jets and plumes
  • mixing energy
  • slip velocity


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