The effects of waves and currents on the transport of oil-mineral aggregates (OMAs) and their potential risks to benthic organisms
[en] Wave motion can break up surface oil spills on water into micron-sized oil droplets. The many suspended particles in the water column can interact with oil droplets to form oil-mineral aggregates (OMAs). This natural process stabilizes dispersed oil droplets in the water column and improves their rate of biodegradation. This reduces the probability of oil reaching shores. This paper reported on a study that investigated the transport processes of OMAs in the marine environment. It used a newly developed integrated modelling methodology that examined the transport of OMAs and evaluated the risks to the benthic organisms under a wide range of wave and current conditions. A set of 12 simulations were conducted under mean currents of 0.16, 0.33 and 0.49 m/s and significant wave heights of 0, 0.5, 2.5 and 5.0 m. The study showed that although waves can hinder the settling of OMAs, the current has little influence on the settling. Both waves and current had an appreciable affect on transport and risks. The effects of current were observed over the entire simulation period, while the effects of the waves were more pronounced at the early stages of transport. 20 refs., 7 figs.