Formation of oil and gas intrusions after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill



[1] After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, hydrocarbons were released into the Gulf of Mexico. These hydrocarbons were found to have formed large subsurface horizontal intrusions. Socolofsky et al. studied the dynamics of the formation of these intrusions, looking at observations from the Deepwater Horizon blowout, and adapted relationships developed from lab experiments to describe the mechanisms underlying the formation of the intrusions. The authors found that the intrusions form from density stratification of multiphase plumes containing dissolved gas and oil as well as small liquid drops. They developed a method for estimating intrusion elevation and found that their estimates agreed well with observations that the intrusions were primarily between 800 and 1200 meters in depth. The models could help researchers studying the fate of subsurface oil and gas. (Geophysical Research Letters, doi:10.1029/2011GL047174, 2011)