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Deepwater leasing is advancing at an accelerated pace. This pace fueled by technological advances (extended drilling, 3-D seismic, enhanced computer and graphic capabilities), new geological provinces (sub-salt plays and deepwater), and the Deepwater Royalty Relief Act. We expect deepwater exploration and development will progress rapidly under stimuli of high flow rates and technological advances. This flurry of deepwater activities will add an extra burden on MMS due to this rapid development into a poorly known environment. At present numerical modeling studies of physical processes conducted in the Gulf focused on the shelf and shelf edge. A similar study in the slope and deepwater regions where industry activities are taking place has not been done. All previous efforts have essentially been directed at producing grid fields of currents for risk analyses. The available data, or anecdotal information, suggest that the Loop Current and smaller eddies are very active, and that the bottom relief is such that the slope and rise are a little understood oceanographic province driven by different processes.

To conduct a detailed study of deep circulation in the Gulf of Mexico that seems driven by cyclones and anticyclones; examine transport, mixing, and ventilation in deepwater with Lagrangian techniques; and to estimate the residence time of deepwater in this basin.