The propagation of particulate gravity currents in a V-shaped triangular cross section channel: lock-release experiments and shallow-water numerical simulations

C A Meriaux, T Zemach, C B Kurz-Besson, M Ungarish

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Abstract

In this study, we investigate the motion of particulate gravity currents in a horizontal V-shaped channel. The particulate currents consisted of particles whose size varied between 0 and 100 μm but whose mean size increased. Particles were poorly sorted as the variance of the grain size distributions varied between 50 and 200. While the phases of propagation of homogeneous currents in such a geometry have been studied in the literature, this study considers the effects of the grain size on the propagation. The distance of propagation and front velocity of full-depth high-Reynolds-number lock-release experiments and shallow-water equation simulations were analyzed as the mean grain size of the initial particle distributions, defined by mass, was increased from 19 to 58 μm. Similar to the homogeneous currents, three consecutive phases of the front velocity could be identified but their characteristics and extent depend on the particle size. The initial phase, in particular, depends on a dimensionless settling number β that is defined as the ratio of two characteristic time scales, the propagation time x0/U, where U is the scale for the front speed and x0 the lock length, and the settling time h0/vs, where vs is the scale for the settling velocity and h0 the initial height of the current. For dimensionless settling numbers less than 0.001, the initial phase is characterized by a constant velocity for over about 6-7 lock lengths that is alike the initial slumping phase of perfectly constant velocity of the homogeneous currents. For dimensionless settling numbers greater than 0.001 and less than 0.015, the initial phase is no longer characterized by a constant velocity but an almost constant velocity for over about a similar 6-7 lock lengths. For dimensionless settling numbers greater than 0.015, however, as such, this phase is no longer seen. This initial phase is followed by a continuous decrease of the front advance, which results from the sedimentation of the particles. Unlike the homogeneous currents, this phase is a non-self-similar propagation. This phase is ended by a viscosity-dominated phase appearing to vary as ~t1/7. The good agreement between the front advance of the experiments and shallow-water equation simulations demonstrates that the mean size by mass is a fairly good proxy of poorly sorted particles.
Original languageEnglish
Article number036601
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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