Oil droplets transport due to irregular waves: Development of large-scale spreading coefficients

Xiaolong Geng, Michel C. Boufadel, Tamay Ozgokmen, Thomas King, Kenneth Lee, Youyu Lu, Lin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations


The movement of oil droplets due to waves and buoyancy was investigated by assuming an irregular sea state following a JONSWAP spectrum and four buoyancy values. A technique known as Wheeler stretching was used to model the movement of particles under the moving water surface. In each simulation, 500 particles were released and were tracked for a real time of 4.0 h. A Monte Carlo approach was used to obtain ensemble properties. It was found that small eddy diffusivities that decrease rapidly with depth generated the largest horizontal spreading of the plume. It was also found that large eddy diffusivities that decrease slowly with depth generated the smallest horizontal spreading coefficient of the plume. The increase in buoyancy resulted in a decrease in the horizontal spreading coefficient, which suggests that two-dimensional (horizontal) models that predict the transport of surface oil could be overestimating the spreading of oil.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)279-289
Number of pages11
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 15 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


  • Buoyancy
  • Eddy diffusivity
  • Irregular waves
  • Oil spill model
  • Particle tracking


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