Farfield Tracing of a Point Source Discharge Plume in the Coastal Ocean Using Sulfur Hexafluoride
Environmental Science & Technology
Pathways and dilution of a point source ocean discharge in the farfield (≈10−66 km) were measured using the deliberate tracer sulfur hexafluoride (SF6). The injection of SF6 was performed by bubbling the gas over a period of 6 days into an ocean outfall pipe discharging into the southeast Florida coastal ocean. The surface SF6 concentrations show that the discharged water flowed northward parallel to the coast with a broadening of the width of the plume to about 3 km at the farthest point sampled, 66 km from the outfall. The discharge was fully mixed throughout the water column within 13 km of the outfall terminus. In the first 20 km from the outfall, SF6surface concentrations were highly variable, while beyond this the SF6 concentrations decreased monotonically going northward. The currents were measured during the study with a bottom-mounted acoustic Doppler current profiler (ADCP) located 5.5 km from the outfall. Velocities were variable in magnitude and direction but showed a net northward flow during the 6-day study. Maximum concentrations decreased by about 200-fold per kilometer from the outfall to the northern end of the study area. The study shows that SF6 is an effective method to trace point source releases far from their origin.
Rik Wanninkhof, K. M. Sullivan, W. Paul Dammann, John Proni, Frederick Bloetscher, Alexander Soloviev, and Thomas P. Carsey. 2005. Farfield Tracing of a Point Source Discharge Plume in the Coastal Ocean Using Sulfur Hexafluoride .Environmental Science & Technology , (22) : 8883 -8890. https://nsuworks.nova.edu/occ_facarticles/677.