Containment strategies for marine oil spills in nearshore waters

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



The movement of oil on the water surface is a result of meteorologie and oceanographic processes. Attempts to contain or divert surface oil using booms should factor these processes into the development of deployment tactics. Attempts to deploy booms, disregarding physical and environmental conditions often have met with failure. Differing physical parameters affect water circulation and the movement of oil in the nearshore environments of reef/lagoon and barrier inlet systems; generalized models identify the primary features of each of these two systems for selection of appropriate methods of boom deployment. Circulation patterns across reefs are dominated by wave-driven and tidal-driven forces that carry water across the reef crest into the low energy lagoonal environment. Within the lagoon, tidal and wind stress forces become important factors that drive the circulation systems. Barrier island inlets that form in meso-tidal environments have circulation patterns that are dominated by cyclical tidal forces. In the narrow inlet throats current velocities are frequently too great for booms to contain oil. In this situation diversion of surface oil to areas of low current speeds can be used to protect sensitive lagoonal environments. During the early stages of a flooding ride, current inflow through the inlet is in marginal channels and at this tidal stage oil could be diverted to the shoreline before it enters the inlet throat.

Publication Source (Journal or Book title)

2005 International Oil Spill Conference, IOSC 2005

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