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Oil and gas from a subsea blowout shatter into droplets and bubbles that rise through the water column, entraining ambient seawater and forming a plume. Local density stratification and currents eventually arrest this rising plume, and the entrained water, enriched with dissolved hydrocarbons and some of the smaller oil droplets, forms one or more subsurface intrusion layers. Beyond the plume and intrusion layer(s), droplets and bubbles advect and diffuse by local currents and dissolve and biodegrade as they rise to the surface, where they are transported by wind and waves. These processes occur over a wide range of length scales that preclude simulation by any single model, but separate models of varying complexity are available to handle the different processes. Here, we summarize existing models and point out areas of ongoing and future research.

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Oceanography, v. 29, issue 3, p. 64-75