This blog provides commentary on interesting geological events occurring around the world in the context of my own work. This work is, broadly, geological fluid dynamics. The events that I highlight here are those that resonate with my professional life and ideas, and my goal is to interpret them in the context of ideas I've developed in my research. The blog does not represent any particular research agenda. It is written on a personal basis and does not seek to represent the University of Illinois, where I am a professor of geology and physics. Enjoy Geology in Motion! I would be glad to be alerted to geologic events of interest to post here! I hope that this blog can provide current event materials that will make geology come alive.

Banner image is by Ludie Cochrane..

Susan Kieffer can be contacted at s1kieffer at gmail.com

Friday, May 21, 2010

Live video of Gulf Coast Oil Leak is Available

Photo of the platform Deep Water Horizon by U.S. Coast Guard.

BP has released a streaming video of the source of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Apparently the position of the camera will be changed sometimes so it should be an interesting video to follow.

Striking aspects of the plume are the unsteadiness of the flow, the existence at times of two streams (a light stream, presumably methane gas, and a darker stream, presumably the oil), the turbulence, and the spiraling rotation of the plume. Prof. Steve Werely at Purdue claimed to the Senate last week that he had used PIV to obtain the discharge rate of oil into the Gulf. PIV tracks individual fluid packets in order to estimate velocities. I do not have access to his velocities, but only to his conclusions. He claims that there are 70,000 barrels per day (3.9 million gallons per day), a value way in excess of the 5,000 barrels per day that BP and the US government have been using. He claims that 25,000 barrels per day are coming out of a 1.2" wide pipe. There are apparently 3 sources of oil, but I've not been able to find the details of the geometry. I did some calculations that show that the velocity would be about 1.5 meters per second. This seems like a reasonable velocity to me from the videos that I've been able to see.

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