Dynamics of Contained Oil Slicks

by David L. Wilkinson, Consultant; Hydraulics Section, Natl. Res. Council of Canada, Ottawa, Canada,

Serial Information: Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 1972, Vol. 98, Issue 6, Pg. 1013-1030

Document Type: Journal Paper


An oil slick contained on the surface of a flowing stream may be divided into two zones of influence; a frontal region where dynamic forces are dominant and a viscous zone where viscous stresses determine the form of the slick. It is shown that the frontal thickness of an oil slick can be expressed as a function of a densimetric Froude number based on properties of the stream and the density of the oil. Dynamic effects cause the interface to become unstable when the densimetric Froude number exceeds a critical value and retention of a slick under such conditions becomes impossible.

Subject Headings: Hazardous materials spills | Froude number | Overland flow | Streamflow | Thickness | Rivers and streams

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