Modeling spreading of oil slicks based on random walk methods and Voronoi diagrams

Mar Pollut Bull. 2017 May 15;118(1-2):93-100. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2017.02.038. Epub 2017 Feb 20.


We introduce a methodology for representation of a surface oil slick using a Voronoi diagram updated at each time step. The Voronoi cells scale the Gaussian random walk procedure representing the spreading process by individual particle stepping. The step length of stochastically moving particles is based on a theoretical model of the spreading process, establishing a relationship between the step length of diffusive spreading and the thickness of the slick at the particle locations. The Voronoi tessellation provides the areal extent of the slick particles and in turn the thicknesses of the slick and the diffusive-type spreading length for all particles. The algorithm successfully simulates the spreading process and results show very good agreement with the analytical solution. Moreover, the results are robust for a wide range of values for computational time step and total number of particles.

Keywords: Oil slick; Oil spill modeling; Random walk method; Spreading model; Voronoi diagram.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Petroleum Pollution / analysis*
  • Water Pollutants, Chemical / analysis*


  • Water Pollutants, Chemical