The Dispersion of Ocean Outfall Plumes: Physical and Biological Dynamics

by Burton H. Jones, Univ of Southern California, Los Angeles, United States,
Libe Washburn, Univ of Southern California, Los Angeles, United States,
Yicun Wu, Univ of Southern California, Los Angeles, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Coastal Zone '91


The discharge of municipal wastewater into the coastal ocean through large ocean outfalls is an important component in managing sewage wastes generated by heavily populated urban areas of Southern California. A fundamental problem in understanding the fate of the released effluent components is the dispersion of the effluent plume that is released into the ocean. Recent developments in oceanographic technology have made it possible to map a combination of physical, bio-optical and chemical variables with high resolution. This technology makes it possible to map outfall plumes in space and to monitor them through time in order to understand the processes that affect the dispersion of these outfall plumes. These mapping techniques have been applied to the region surrounding the Los Angeles County Whites Point ocean outfall off Palos Verdes, California. An example from March 1989 shows the unambiguous resolution of the outfall plume from a combination of physical, chemical and bio-optical variables. Various processes can affect the plume dispersion including advection, vertical turbulent diffusion, and biological processes. These processes are being evaluated with the acquired data sets.

Subject Headings: Mapping | Ocean engineering | Plumes | Biological processes | Water pollution | Municipal wastewater | Effluents | Chemicals | California | United States | Los Angeles

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