Flow separation at convex banks in open channels
Laboratory experiments in an open channel bend provide insight into the physics of convex bank flow separation occurring in a variety of channel configurations, including confluences and bifurcations. The edge of the zone of flow separation is characterized by a shear layer, enhanced velocity gradients, tke, turbulent shear stresses and reversal of the streamwise vorticity and vertical velocity. The latter result from turbulence-induced secondary flow near the convex bank. When bankline curvature abruptly increases, flow tends to move away from the convex bank along a straight path, as represented by the inertial forces including the centrifugal force in the transverse momentum equation written in curvilinear coordinates. Mass accumulation at the opposite bank leads to a transverse tilting of the water surface, and a pressure gradient towards the convex bank that causes the flow to change direction. The pressure gradient force lags spatially behind the inertial forces, which promotes flow separation. How separation typically occurs downstream of the location of maximum change in the bankline curvature, because an abrupt increase in bankline curvature also leads to water surface gradients that cause local flow redistribution towards the convex bank that opposes flow separation. The zone of convex bank flow separation is shaped by the secondary flow induced by streamline curvature and turbulence. The latter is conditioned by the production rate of tke, which crucially depends on the accurate description of the Reynolds stresses. Hydrodynamic, geometric and sedimentologic control parameters of convex bank flow separation are identified and discussed.