Investigating the effect of oil spills
on the environment and public health.
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Funding Source: Year One Block Grant - Louisiana State University

Project Overview

Modeling, Data and Visualization of Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill

Principal Investigator
Louisiana State University
Department of Mechanical Engineering


Three-dimensional modeling of the transport and fate of oil, gas and hydrates is essential to capture the correct behavior of oil spills and their impact on natural and human resources. Current forecast models generally embody depth-averaged or two-dimensional coastal models that do not capture the three-dimensional spatio-temporal dispersion of the multi-component spill and additives. Given the concern about the dispersants reducing the upward migration of the oil, modeling the transport and fate of oil and gas and its dispersant additives in the underwater regions is very important.

We are proposing a comprehensive long-term physics-based oil spill model that is three-dimensional, contains the interacting flow components of oil, gas (methane), water and dispersant, and the spatio-temporal evolution and fate of the multi-component, multi-phase mixture including their interactions with the microbial environment. These computationally intensive and complex simulations will be accompanied by elaborate three-dimensional visualizations to understand the data, both for scientific usage as an analysis tool and for education and public outreach in classrooms and the media.

Our inter-disciplinary research team has been working together for several years on two large computational fluid dynamics (CFD) projects (an existing IGERT and an NSF Cybertools) involving simulations of complex fluid flows and their visualization. In additions groups in Costal and Oceanography have been undertaking simulations and data of the Gulf behavior. We will build on this collaboration to analyze and visualize the trajectories and dispersion of both surface and subsurface oil and gas.

This research was made possible by a grant from BP/The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative.