The onset of droplet formation from contained oil slicks is interpreted to be due to the breaking of finite amplitude interfacial waves. These waves result from the equilibration of amplifying Kelvin-Helmholtz waves. Experimental evidence is shown to be consistent with this view. From this model, conditions for droplet shedding from the headwave alone and from the entire slick are derived. Also, an earlier result in the stability of thin slicks is shown to be in error.

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