Thursday, December 03, 2009

Simulating wave hitting ocean platform

In the ITWire this morning, there's the following report by William Atkins:
Australian scientists at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have created virtual ocean waves over twenty meters tall in order to test how different types of oil and gas rigs withstand the real monster waves that impact them in the open sea.

These virtually designed ocean waves crash into virtually made semi-submersible oil and gas production platforms in order to compare how the different mooring designs stand up to the force of the impacts.

The offshore platforms (sometimes also called oil and gas rigs) are large structures that house workers and equipment needed to drill wells into the ocean bed.

The wells are then used to extract oil or natural gas for processing on the mainland. These platforms may be fixed to the ocean floor or may float on the ocean surface.

The oil and gas rigs have to withstand rogue waves, which are sometimes also commonly called monster waves, killer waves, and other such descriptive names. These monster waves are extra large ocean surface waves that are serious threats to offshore platforms, along with ships sailing the seas.
The article was based on CSIRO news release and this image page where the following video was downloaded.

This is a very impressive computer simulation of what might happen when a freaque wave hits the platform. The question immediately come to my mind is how realistic this simulation can be? One can nitpicking about the wave was not breaking and lack of follow up waves. But this is a brilliant start. The important issue remains to be that we don't know what is really happening out there. Measurements and more measurements are pressingly needed to help improve this kind of studies. More important is that single point measurements as presently practiced will be most definitely inadequate and may even be useless for realistic freaque wave studies. When can we expect new generation of wave measurements to re-energize the true ocean wave studies?