Open-File Report 2015–1057
Oil that comes into the surf zone following spills, such as occurred during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon (DWH) blowout, can mix with local sediment to form heavier-than-water sand and oil agglomerates (SOAs), at times in the form of mats a few centimeters thick and tens of meters long. Smaller agglomerates that form in situ or pieces that break off of larger mats, sometimes referred to as surface residual balls (SRBs), range in size from sand-sized grains to patty-shaped pieces several centimeters (cm) in diameter. These mobile SOAs can cause beach oiling for extended periods following the spill, on the scale of years as in the case of DWH. Limited research, including a prior effort by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) investigating SOA mobility, alongshore transport, and seafloor interaction using numerical model output, focused on the physical dynamics of SOAs. To address this data gap, we constructed artificial sand and oil agglomerates (aSOAs) with sand and paraffin wax to mimic the size and density of genuine SOAs. These aSOAs were deployed in the nearshore off the coast of St. Petersburg, Florida, during a field experiment to investigate their movement and seafloor interaction. This report presents the methodology for constructing aSOAs and describes the field experiment. Data acquired during the field campaign, including videos and images of aSOA movement in the nearshore (1.5-meter and 0.5-meter water depth) and in the swash zone, are also presented in this report.
First posted May 12, 2015
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Dalyander, P.S., Long, J.W., Plant, N.G, McLaughlin, Molly, and Mickey, R.C., 2015, Field observations of artificial sand and oil agglomerates: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2015–1057, https://dx.doi.org/10.3133/ofr20151057.
ISSN 2332–1258 (online)