IMPACT OF PETROLEUM SPILLS ON THE CHEMICAL AND PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF THE AIR/SEA INTERFACE

Reviewed are the natural forces operating on the oil slick to disperse its constituents into the marine environment. Weathering, dispersion, and air/sea dynamics ultimately degrade the spill to tarlike lumps and/or stable water-in-oil emulsions, both of which have long lifetimes in the sea. Also discussed are how layers of petroleum oils and their attendant monomolecular films influence various properties of the air/sea interface and modify exchange processes between the atmosphere and the ocean. Capillary waves are resisted and attenuated, and the interaction between wind and waves is uncoupled through the elimination of form drag. Gas exchange may be inhibited by oil films, but this effect does not occur to a serious extent in the open ocean. Liquid and solid exchange is altered, organic fallout is concentrated at the surface by the oil, and oil is transported into the marine atmosphere. Although an oil slick can damp its environment by slowing processes at the air/sea interface and resisting interactions between the ocean and atmosphere, a worldwide ocean surface film, capable of global environmental impacts, is deemed unlikely.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Naval Research Laboratory

    Stennis Space Center, MS  USA  39529-5004
  • Authors:
    • Garrett, W D
  • Publication Date: 1972-2-16

Media Info

  • Pagination: 20 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00034418
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Technical Information Service
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NRL-7372 Intrm Rpt
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Sep 29 1974 12:00AM