Bifurcations and degenerate periodic points in a three dimensional chaotic fluid flow

L. D. Smith, M. Rudman, D. R. Lester, G. Metcalfe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Analysis of the periodic points of a conservative periodic dynamical system uncovers the basic kinematic structure of the transport dynamics and identifies regions of local stability or chaos. While elliptic and hyperbolic points typically govern such behaviour in 3D systems, degenerate (parabolic) points also play an important role. These points represent a bifurcation in local stability and Lagrangian topology. In this study, we consider the ramifications of the two types of degenerate periodic points that occur in a model 3D fluid flow. (1) Period-tripling bifurcations occur when the local rotation angle associated with elliptic points is reversed, creating a reversal in the orientation of associated Lagrangian structures. Even though a single unstable point is created, the bifurcation in local stability has a large influence on local transport and the global arrangement of manifolds as the unstable degenerate point has three stable and three unstable directions, similar to hyperbolic points, and occurs at the intersection of three hyperbolic periodic lines. The presence of period-tripling bifurcation points indicates regions of both chaos and confinement, with the extent of each depending on the nature of the associated manifold intersections. (2) The second type of bifurcation occurs when periodic lines become tangent to local or global invariant surfaces. This bifurcation creates both saddle-centre bifurcations which can create both chaotic and stable regions, and period-doubling bifurcations which are a common route to chaos in 2D systems. We provide conditions for the occurrence of these tangent bifurcations in 3D conservative systems, as well as constraints on the possible types of tangent bifurcation that can occur based on topological considerations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number053106
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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