On the dilution of liquid waste in ships' wakes

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A study of the mixing behavior of liquid waste after ocean dumping is essential for the identification of dump sites, as well as for impact assessment on the surrounding oceanic waters. The dilution of liquid waste in the wakes of ships at sea is explored in this study, and the effects of the circumstances of the discharge operation such as the discharge rate, and the size and speed of the vessel, and the oceanic parameters such as currents and turbulence level in the water column, are examined. The mixing process is categorized into three stages: near-wake, far-wake, and long-term diffusion. Dilution rates in the three stages are derived, based on the theories of diffusion and momentumless wakes. In the far-wake stage, the speed of the ship is the most effective parameter in enhancing the dilution rate. The formulae for dilution rates in the far-wake stage and for long-term diffusion agree well with field measurements, while the well-known IMCO formula underestimates the dilution rate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-154
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Technology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996


  • Dilution
  • Liquid waste
  • Momentumless wake
  • Ocean dumping
  • Turbulent diffusion


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