Modeling Distribution, Fate, and Concentrations of Deepwater Horizon Oil in Subsurface Waters of the Gulf of Mexico

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Oil spill modeling of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon discharge was performed to evaluate the fate of the oil in subsurface waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The oil fate model Spill Impact Model Application Package (SIMAP) was used to estimate rise rate of oil droplets, dissolution of oil constituents, movements of oil droplets and dissolved components, and degradation of hydrocarbon components in the deep-sea. As sampling during April-July 2010 was primarily performed within 20. km of the spill site, model predictions were compared to field data from within a 25-by-25-km box centered on the wellhead. Concentrations of soluble and semisoluble hydrocarbon components predicted by the model agreed well with chemical measurements when compared as frequency distributions within varying depth zones of the water column. The results showed that the soluble hydrocarbons primarily dissolved near the release depth, while semisoluble compounds were partially dissolved at depth and as droplets rose.

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Oil Spill Environmental Forensics Case Studies