Dynamic Coupling of Near-Field and Far-Field Models

  • Ana C. VazEmail author
  • Claire B. Paris
  • Anusha L. Dissanayake
  • Scott A. Socolofsky
  • Jonas Gros
  • Michel C. Boufadel


Deepwater spills pose a unique challenge for reliable predictions of oil transport and fate, since live oil spewing under very high hydrostatic pressure has characteristics remarkably distinct from oil spilling in shallow water. It is thus important to describe in detail the complex thermodynamic processes occurring in the near-field, meters above the wellhead, and the hydrodynamic processes in the far-field, up to kilometers away. However, these processes are typically modeled separately since they occur at different scales. Here we directly couple two oil prediction applications developed during the Deepwater Horizon blowout operating at different scales: the near-field Texas A&M Oilspill Calculator (TAMOC) and the far-field oil application of the Connectivity Modeling System (oil-CMS). To achieve this coupling, new oil-CMS modules were developed to read TAMOC output, which consists of the description of distinct oil droplet “types,” each of specific size and pseudo-component mixture that enters at a given mass flow rate, time, and position into the far field. These variables are transformed for use in the individual-based framework of CMS, where each droplet type fits into a droplet size distribution (DSD). Here we used 19 pseudo-components representing a large range of hydrocarbon compounds and their respective thermodynamic properties. Simulation results show that the dispersion pathway of the different droplet types varies significantly. Indeed, some droplet types remain suspended in the subsea over months, while others accumulate in the surface layers. In addition, the decay rate of oil pseudo-components significantly alters the dispersion, denoting the importance of more biodegradation and dissolution studies of chemically and naturally dispersed live oil at high pressure. This new modeling tool shows the potential for improved accuracy in predictions of oil partition in the water column and of advancing impact assessment and response during a deepwater spill.


Far-field model Near-field model Coupling Deepwater well blowout Coupled near-field and far-field models Oil transport prediction Model parameterization 



This research was made possible by a from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative/C-IMAGE.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ana C. Vaz
    • 1
    Email author
  • Claire B. Paris
    • 1
  • Anusha L. Dissanayake
    • 2
  • Scott A. Socolofsky
    • 3
  • Jonas Gros
    • 4
  • Michel C. Boufadel
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Ocean Sciences, RSMASUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  2. 2.RPS Group North America, Ocean SciencesSouth KingstownUSA
  3. 3.Department of Ocean SciencesTexas A&M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  4. 4.GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research KielKielGermany
  5. 5.The New Jersey Institute of Technology, John A. Reif, Jr. Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringNewarkUSA

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