Axisymmetric gravity currents in two-layer density-stratified media

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  • Numerous studies have considered the flow of a rectilinear, high Reynolds number, Boussinesq gravity current through a two-layer stratified ambient, however, far less is known concerning the analogue axisymmetric problem. Whereas in both instances there is the possibility of a dynamic coupling between the gravity current front and the waves that are excited by its forward advance, axisymmetric gravity currents entail the added complexity of a radially-diverging flow. Because a steady-state formulation cannot then be developed, we instead present a one-layer shallow water model that describes the flow evolution for various initial conditions and ambient stratifications. We also report upon >30 full- and partial-depth lock release laboratory experiments that span a densitometric range 0โ‰ค๐‘†<0.8868 where ๐‘†=(๐œŒ1โˆ’๐œŒ2)/(๐œŒ๐‘โˆ’๐œŒ2) in which ๐œŒ๐‘ , ๐œŒ1 and ๐œŒ2 denote, respectively, the densities of the gravity current and lower and upper ambient layers. Of principal interest is the initial front speed of the gravity current for which good agreement is observed between laboratory measurement and shallow water numerical simulation, despite the limiting assumptions of the latter. The horizontal distance over which the initial front speed is maintained may span several lock-lengths, however, this depends on whether or not the gravity current is substantially impacted by the interfacial wave(s). For example, when the lower ambient layer is moderate and ๐‘† is large, the transfer of momentum from the gravity current front to the wave may lead to a deceleration so severe that gravity current fluid is swept in the โˆ’๐‘Ÿ direction. The connection between our analysis and problems of pollution dispersion is briefly outlined.

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    Article (Published)
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International