The Transport and Fate of Drilling Muds

by M. Kathryn Pickens, Univ of California, Santa Barbara, United States,
Wilbert J. Lick, Univ of California, Santa Barbara, United States,

Abstract: The disposal of drilling muds from offshore oil platforms is of concern because of the potential effects of pollution from these muds. Both drilling muds and fine-grained bottom sediments are similar in their general physical and chemical characteristics and can be studied by similar methods. In order to investigate the transport and fate of drilling muds, a numerical model of this transport and fate has been developed. The model consists of a two-dimensional, vertically-integrated, time-dependent hydrodynamic and mass transport model coupled with a three-dimensional time-dependent model of the sediment bed and its properties. A deep-water environment and a shallow-water environment, were studied. Calculations show that the non-linear effects of shear stresses on sediment resuspension dominate both regimes. Waves generated by large, low-probability storms result in burial of drilling muds deposited in deep water. By contrast, sediments deposited in shallow water are easily eroded by typical storm waves due to the higher bottom shear stress generated in this shallow-water environment.

Subject Headings: Mud | Hydrologic models | Drilling | Shear stress | Water pollution | Sediment | Two-dimensional models | Three-dimensional models

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