A layer of oil on the water surface, usually as a result of an accidental or deliberate spill of crude oil or other petroleum product.
The thickness of an oil slick can range from a few molecules thick up to many millimeters. Thin oil slicks appear as a "blue sheen", due to optical interference
effects. Even when very thin, slicks cause significant damping
of centimeter-scale surface waves and thus appear as low-backscatter regions in airborne or satellite radar images. After spillage, oil slicks spread by the effects of the winds, tides, gravity
, surface tension
, and ocean current
shear and turbulence
. They eventually disperse by evaporation
, dissolution, and downmixing by breaking waves. Wave action can also lead to the formation of oil-in-water emulsions.
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