EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Preliminary model results for subsurface oil and gas release

Giulia Gronchi1,2, Nadia Pinardi1,2, Giovanni Coppini2, Svitlana Liubartseva2, and Augusto Sepp Neves2
Giulia Gronchi et al.
  • 1Alma Mater, Bologna University, Physics, Italy (
  • 2Ocean Predictions and Applications Division, Centro Euro-Mediterraneo sui Cambiamenti Climatici, CMCC, Italy

Although most oil spill accidents occur at the sea surface, the growing offshore oil exploration activities increase the likelihood of subsurface releases. In this context, it is necessary to develop a subsurface oil spill model to forecast the oil transport in the water column and to prepare the response once the oil reaches the coasts and the surface. The novelty is to combine this buoyant plume model with realistic subsurface currents and ocean density fields and compare the results with idealized conditions.  The model will be combined later with a community oil spill model Medslik-II (

Following the literature (1,2), a 3D model of a buoyant jet/plume is developed, which simulates the key processes in the nearfield approximation. Turbulent entrainment of ambient water (both through forced and shear fluxes), dissolution and turbulent diffusion of oil droplets and gas bubbles are realistically represented. The used ambient oceanographic fields are provided by the Monitoring and Forecasting Centre (MED-MFC) of the Copernicus Marine Service. These fields, in particular water density and current velocity, directly control the evolution of the plume in time. In the model, there are options to simulate both oil and oil/gas mixture discharges. Additionally, it is possible to compute instantaneous and continuous subsurface releases.

The model is validated with a unique DeepSpill field experiment conducted in the North Sea with the release of oil and gas (3,4,5).




[1] J. H. W. Lee and V. Cheung, Generalized Lagrangian model for buoyant jets in current, Journal of Environmental Engineering, ASCE, 116, (6), 1085-1105, 1990.

[2] P. D. Yapa and L. Zheng, Simulation of oil spills from underwater accidents I: Model development, Journal of Hydraulic Research, 35 (5), 673-688, 1997.

[3] P. D. Yapa, L. Zheng, K. Nakata, Modeling Underwater Oil/Gas Jets and Plumes, Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 125, (5), 1999.

[4] P. D. Yapa, H. Xie, Modeling Underwater Oil/Gas Jets and Plumes: Comparison with Field Data, Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 128, (9), 2002.

[5] H. Rye, P. J. Brandvik, T. Strøm, Subsurface blowouts: Results from field experiments, SpillScience and Technology Bulletin, 4, (4), 1997.

How to cite: Gronchi, G., Pinardi, N., Coppini, G., Liubartseva, S., and Sepp Neves, A.: Preliminary model results for subsurface oil and gas release, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-7607,, 2022.