Journal article

Visualization of the internal flow properties and the material exchange interface in an entraining viscous Newtonian gravity current

In order to simulate a simple entraining geophysical flow, a viscous Newtonian gravity current is released from a reservoir by a dam-break and flows along a rigid horizontal bed until it meets a layer of entrainable material of finite depth, identical to the current. The goal is to examine the entrainment mechanisms by observing the interaction between the incoming flow and the loose bed. The sole parameter varied is the initial volume of the gravity current, thus altering its height and velocity. The gravity current plunges or spills into the entrainable bed and the velocity of the flow front becomes linear with time. The bed material is directly affected: motion is generated in the fluid far downstream of, and in that lying beneath the encroaching front. Shear bands are identified, separating horizontal flow downstream from flow with a strong vertical component close to the step. Downstream of the step the flow is horizontal and stratified, with no slip on the bottom boundary and very low shear near the surface. Between these two regions may lie transitional zones with linear velocity profiles, separated by horizontal bands of high shear; the number of transitional zones in the cross-section varies with the initial volume of the dam-break.

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