Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

In Situ Burning of Oil Spills: Mesoscale Experiments and Analysis (NIST SP 995)



William D. Walton, D. D. Evans, Kevin B. McGrattan, Howard R. Baum, W H. Twilley, Daniel M. Madrzykowski, Anthony D. Putorti Jr., Ronald G. Rehm, H Koseki, E J. Tennyson


A series of six mesoscale and one large laboratory fire experiments were performed to measure the burning characteristics of Louisiana crude oil on water in a pan. These included one - 6 m square and five - 15 m square mesoscale burns and one - 1.2 m diameter laboratory burn. Results of the measurements for burning rate and smoke emissions are compared to those from previous burns of various scales. The burning rate as indicated by the regression rate of the oil surface was found to be 0.062 + 0.003 mm/s for both the 6 m and 15 m square pan fires and 0.046 mm/s for the 1.2 m diameter fire. Smoke particulate yields from both the 15 m square and 1.2 m diameter fires were found to be approximately 11% of the oil burned on a mass basis. Predictions of smoke plume trajectory and particulate deposition at ground level from the Large Eddy Simulation (LES) model developed as part of this research effort are presented. LES is a steady-state three-dimensional calculation of smoke plume trajectory and smoke particulate deposition based on a mixed finite difference and Lagrangian particle tracking method.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 995
Report Number


oil spills, experiments, crude oil, water, instruments, burning rate, particle size distribution, temperature, carbon dioxide, plumes, visibility, mathematical models, equations, in situ burning, regression rate


Walton, W. , Evans, D. , McGrattan, K. , Baum, H. , Twilley, W. , Madrzykowski, D. , Putorti, A. , Rehm, R. , Koseki, H. and Tennyson, E. (2003), In Situ Burning of Oil Spills: Mesoscale Experiments and Analysis (NIST SP 995), Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online], (Accessed June 15, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created March 1, 2003, Updated February 19, 2017