Simulation of scenarios of oil droplet formation from the Deepwater Horizon blowout

Lin Zhao, Michel C. Boufadel, Eric Adams, Scott A. Socolofsky, Thomas King, Kenneth Lee, Timothy Nedwed

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


Knowledge of the droplet size distribution (DSD) from the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) blowout is an important step in predicting the fate and transport of the released oil. Due to the absence of measurements of the DSD from the DWH incident, we considered herein hypothetical scenarios of releases that explore the realistic parameter space using a thoroughly calibrated DSD model, VDROP-J, and we attempted to provide bounds on the range of droplet sizes from the DWH blowout within 200 m of the wellhead. The scenarios include conditions without and with the presence of dispersants, different dispersant treatment efficiencies, live oil and dead oil properties, and varying oil flow rate, gas flow rate, and orifice diameter. The results, especially for dispersant-treated oil, are very different from recent modeling studies in the literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-319
Number of pages16
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution


  • Deepwater Horizon
  • Droplet size distribution
  • Jets and plumes
  • Oil spill
  • Population balance model


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