Journal article

Internal dynamics of Newtonian and viscoplastic fluid avalanches down a sloping bed

We experimentally investigated the spreading of fluid avalanches (i.e., fixed volumes of fluid) down an inclined flume. Emphasis was given to the velocity field within the head. Using specific imaging techniques, we were able to measure velocity profiles within the flowing fluid far from the sidewalls. We studied the behavior of Newtonian and viscoplastic fluids for various flume inclinations and initial masses. For the Newtonian fluids tested (glycerol and Triton X100), we compared the measured velocity field with that predicted by lubrication theory. Provided that the flow Reynolds number Re was sufficiently low (typically Re < 1), there was excellent agreement between theory and experiment except for the very thin region just behind the contact line. For higher Reynolds numbers (typically Re similar to 10), the discrepancy between theory and experiment was more marked (relative errors up to 17% for the body). As viscoplastic materials, we used Carbopol ultrez 10. For the body, agreement between theoretical and measured velocity profiles was fairly satisfactory whereas it was very poor for the tip region as the curvature of the free surface became more pronounced: the velocities were not only much lower than those predicted by lubrication theory, but there was also evidence of slipping in the flow part adjacent to the contact line. (C) 2012 American Institute of Physics. []


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