Gravity Currents: A Comparison of Analytical and Numerical Solutions


Project Description

Turbidity currents are sediment-driven flows in lakes or in the ocean ('underwater avalanches') which propagate along the seafloor due to the density difference caused by the suspended particles. Turbidity currents represent a large-scale geophysical flow phenomenon that plays an important role within the global sediment cycle, and in the formation of deep-sea hydrocarbon reservoirs. Turbidity currents can be maintained for hours or even days, transport many km3 of sediment, and propagate over distances up to 1,000km or more. Due to the infrequent and unpredictable occurrence of turbidity currents in remote areas, and their destructive nature, field data regarding their structure and evolution are very difficult to obtain. Consequently, in addition to laboratory experiments, high-resolution simulations have become an important tool for the exploration of their dynamics. This research project focused on numerical simulations of these currents via the solution of Navier-Stokes and sediment transport equations.

UCSB California NanoSystems Institute