U.S. Environmental Protection Agency


Date of this Version



Published in Environmental Modelling & Software 19 (2004) 645–654. DOI:10.1016/j.envsoft.2003.08.018


The US Environmental Protection Agency has a history of developing plume models and providing technical assistance. The Visual Plumes model (VP) is a recent addition to the public-domain models available on the EPA Center for Exposure Assessment Modeling (CEAM) web page. The Windows-based VP adapts, modifies, and enhances the earlier DOS-based PLUMES with a new interface, models, and capabilities. VP is a public platform for mixing zone models designed to encourage the continued improvement of plume theory and models by facilitating verification and inter-model comparison. Some examples are presented to illustrate VP’s new capabilities. One demonstrates its ability, for reasonably one-dimensional estuaries, to estimate background concentrations due to tidal re-circulation of previously contaminated receiving water. This capability depends on the optional linkage to time-series input files that enables VP to simulate mixing zone and far-field parameters for long periods. Also described are the new bacterial decay models used to estimate depth changes in first-order decay rates based on environmental stressors, including solar insolation, salinity, and temperature. The nascent density phenomenon is briefly described as it is potentially important to Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil exploration discharges.