Remote Sensing of Ocean-Dumped Waste Drift and Dispersion

  • Vytautas Klemas
  • William D. Philpot
Part of the Marine Science book series (MR, volume 12)


The drift and dispersion of sixteen acid waste plumes 64 km off the Delaware coast were investigated using Landsat imagery, current drogues and ship data. The waste plumes imaged by Landsat were found to be drifting at average rates from 0.59 km hr−1 to 3.39 km hr−1 into the southwest quadrant. The plumes seemed to remain above the thermocline which was observed to form from June through August at depths ranging from 13 m to 24 m. During the remainder of the year the ocean at the test site was not stratified, permitting wastes to mix throughout the water column.

The magnitudes of plume drift velocities were compatible with the drift velocities of current drogues released over a l2-month period at the surface, at mid-depth and near the bottom. However, during the stratified warm months, more drogues tended to move in the north-northeast direction, while during the non-stratified winter months a southwest direction was preferred.

Rapid waste movement toward shore occurs primarily during storms, particularly northeasters. During such storms, however, the plumes are rapidly dispersed and diluted. The plume width was observed to increase at a rate of about 1.5 cm sec-1 during calm sea conditions, yet attain spr ad rates in excess of 4 cm se -1 on windy days. These results indicate that by the time a waste plume would reach shore, dilution would be at least one million to one.


Remote Sensing Continental Shelf Angular Separation LANDSAT Imagery Acid Waste 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vytautas Klemas
    • 1
  • William D. Philpot
    • 1
  1. 1.College of Marine StudiesUniversity of DelawareNewarkUSA

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