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Clarkson Professor To Study Underwater Oil Spills For U.s. Department Of The Interior

A Clarkson University professor will conduct research for the U.S. Department of the Interior to see what happens if oil is spilled in ultra-deep ocean water drill sites. Civil and Environmental Engineering Professor Poojitha D. Yapa [POO-jee-tha YAH-pa] has received a $275,000 research support from the Minerals Management Service of the Department of the Interior for the project.

Since the oil industry is now drilling in ultra-deep water (depths in excess of 3,000 ft.), it is important to have a model for environmental impact assessment and contingency planning. In this very deep water, gases from the wells mix with water to form an ice-like substance called hydrates. Yapa's new model will simulate the behavior of a jet or plume made up of a mix of released oil and these hydrates.

Yapa and former student Li Zheng will develop the computer model over the next two years with the U.S. government and a consortium of oil companies.

In a previous five-year project Yapa and Zheng developed a comprehensive oil spill model that simulated surface and underwater oil spills. The knowledge from this previous work will be used extensively in the new, more complex project.

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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