Journal of Fluid Mechanics

The viscous spreading of plane and axisymmetric gravity currents

N.  Didden a1 and T.  Maxworthy a1
a1 Departments of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California 90007

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Measurements of the spreading rates of gravity-driven currents at both the surface and the bottom of a fluid layer of different density are reported. For the case of a constant inflow rate the spreading relations are derived by estimating the order of magnitude of the forces involved. After an initial balance between gravity and inertia forces the final spreading phase is governed by the balance between gravity and viscous forces. For the latter flow regime, measurements in plane and axisymmetric flow geometries agree well with the spreading relations for gravity currents with a no-slip boundary. The proportionality factor, which is not predicted from this model, is then determined from the measurements and a good agreement is found with the theoretical value derived in the accompanying paper by Huppert (1982).

(Published Online April 20 2006)
(Received February 12 1971)
(Revised July 7 1971)