Past Mathematical Geoscience Seminar

9 March 2018
14:15
Bruce Sutherland
Abstract

Through laboratory experiments, we examine the transport, settling and resuspension of sediments as well as the influence of floating particles upon damping wave motion.   Salt water is shown to enhance flocculation of clay and hence increase their settling rate.   In studies modelling sediment-bearing (hypopycnal) river plumes, experiments show that the particles that eventually settle through uniform-density fluid toward a sloping bottom form a turbidity current.  Meanwhile, even though the removal of particles should increase the buoyancy and hence speed of the surface current, in reality the surface current stops.  This reveals that the removal of fresh water carried by the viscous boundary layers surrounding the settling particles drains the current even when their concentration by volume is less than 5%. The microscopic effect of boundary layer transport by particles upon the large scale evolution is dramatically evident in the circumstance of a mesopycnal particle-bearing current that advances along the interface of a two-layer fluid.  As the fresh water rises and particles fall, the current itself stops and reverses direction.  As a final example, the periodic separation and consolidation of particles floating on a surface perturbed by surface waves is shown to damp faster than exponentially to attain a finite-time arrest as a result of efficiently damped flows through interstitial spaces between particles - a phenomenon that may be important for understanding the damping of surface waves by sea ice in the Arctic Ocean (and which is well-known to anyone drinking a pint with a proper head or a margarita with rocks or slush).

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
23 February 2018
14:15
Srikanth Toppaladoddi
Abstract

In this talk, I show how concepts from non-equilibrium statistical physics can be employed in the study of climate. The specific problem addressed is the geophysical-scale evolution of Arctic sea ice. Using an analogy with Brownian motion, the original evolution equation for the sea ice thickness distribution function by Thorndike et al. (J. Geophys. Res. 80(33), pp. 4501 — 4513, 1975) is transformed to a Fokker-Planck-like conservation law. The steady solution is $g(h) = {\cal N}(q) h^q \mathrm{e}^{-~ h/H}$, where $q$ and $H$ are expressible in terms of moments over the transition probabilities between thickness categories. The solution exhibits the functional form used in observational fits and shows that for $h \ll 1$, $g(h)$ is controlled by both thermodynamics and mechanics, whereas for $h \gg 1$ only mechanics controls $g(h)$. We also derive the underlying Langevin equation governing the dynamics of the ice thickness $h$, from which we predict the observed $g(h)$. Further, seasonality is introduced by using the Eisenman-Wettlaufer model (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106, pp. 28-32, 2009) for the thermal growth of sea ice. The time-dependent problem is studied by numerically integrating the Fokker-Planck equation. The results obtained from these numerical integrations and their comparison with satellite observations are discussed.

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
9 February 2018
14:15
Jonathan Holmes
Abstract

Numerical simulation provides an important contribution to the management of oil reservoirs, and the ‘reservoir simulator’ has been an essential tool for reservoir engineers since the 1970’s. I will describe the role of the ‘well model’ in reservoir simulation. Its main purpose is to determine the production and injection flows of the reservoir fluids at the surface under a variety of operating constraints, and to supply source and sink terms to the grid cells of the reservoir model.

 

Advances in well technology (horizontal, multilateral, and smart wells containing flow control devices) have imposed additional demands on the well model. It must allow the fluid mixture properties to vary with position in the well, and enable different fluid streams to comingle. Friction may make an important contribution to the local pressure gradient. To provide an improved representation of the physics of fluid flow, the well is discretised into a network of segments, where each segment has its own set of variables describing the multiphase flow conditions. Individual segments can be configured to represent flow control devices, accessing lookup tables or built-in correlations to determine the pressure drop across the device as a function of the flow conditions.

 

The ability to couple the wells to a production facility model such as a pipeline network is a crucial advantage for field development and optimization studies, particularly for offshore fields. I will conclude by comparing two techniques for combining a network model with the reservoir simulation. One method is to extend the simulator’s well model to include the network, providing a fully integrated reservoir/well/network simulation. The other method is to run the reservoir and facility models as separate simulations coupled by a ‘controller’, which periodically balances them by exchanging boundary conditions. The latter approach allows the engineer to use a choice of specialist facility simulators.

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
26 January 2018
14:15
Abstract

In contemporary ecology and mathematical biology undergraduate courses, textbooks focus on competition and predation models despite it being accepted that most species on Earth are involved in mutualist relationships. Mutualism is usually discussed more briefly in texts, often from an observational perspective, and obligate mutualism mostly not at all. Part of the reason for this is the lack of a simple math model to successfully explain the observations. Traditionally, particular nonlinearities  are used, which produce a variety of apparently disparate models.

The failure of the traditional linear model to describe coexisting mutualists has been documented from May (1973) through Murray (2001) to Bronstein (2015). Here we argue that this could be because of the use of carrying capacity, and propose the use of a nutrient pool instead, which implies the need for an autotroph (e.g. a plant) that converts nutrients into living resources for higher trophic levels. We show that such a linear model can successfully explain the major features of obligate mutualism when simple expressions for obligated growth are included.

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
1 December 2017
14:15
Lawrence Percival
Abstract

The last 500 million years of Earth’s history have been punctuated by numerous episodes of abrupt climate change, some of them coincident with mass extinction events. Many of these climate events have been associated with massive volcanism, occurring during the emplacement of so-called Large Igneous Provinces (LIPs). Because of the significant impact of small modern eruptions on the Earth’s climate, a link between LIP volcanism and past climate change has been strongly advocated. Geochemical investigations of the sedimentary records which record major climate changes can give a profound insight into the proposed interactions between volcanic activity and climate. Mercury is a trace-gas emitted by modern volcanoes, which are the main source of this metal to the atmosphere. Ultimately atmospheric mercury is deposited in sediments, thus if enrichments in mercury are observed in sediments of the same age across the globe, a volcanic cause of these enrichments might be inferred. Osmium isotopes can also be used as a fingerprint of volcanic activity, as primitive basalts are enriched in unradiogenic 188Os. However, the continental crust is enriched in radiogenic 187Os. Therefore, the 187Os/188Os ratio can change with either more volcanic activity, or increased continental weathering during climate change. Changes in sedimentary mercury content and osmium isotopes can thus be used as markers of volcanism or weathering during climate events. However, a possible future step would be to quantify the amount of volcanism and/or weathering on the basis of these sedimentary excursions. The final part of this talk will introduce some simple quantitative models which may represent a first step towards such quantification, with the aim of further elaborating these models in the future.

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar
17 November 2017
14:15
Vassillios Dallas
Abstract

The existence of planetary and stellar magnetic fields is attributed to the dynamo instability, the mechanism by which a background turbulent flow spontaneously generates a magnetic field by the constructive refolding of magnetic field lines. Many efforts have been made by several experimental groups to reproduce the dynamo instability in the laboratory using liquid metals. However, so far, unconstrained dynamos driven by turbulent flows have not been achieved in the intrinsically low magnetic Prandtl number $P_m$ (i.e. $Pm = Rm/Re << 1$) laboratory experiments. In this seminar I will demonstrate that the critical magnetic Reynolds number $Rm_c$ for turbulent non-helical dynamos in the low $P_m$ limit can be significantly reduced if the flow is submitted to global rotation. Even for moderate rotation rates the required energy injection rate can be reduced by a factor more than 1000. Our finding thus points into a new paradigm for the design of new liquid metal dynamo experiments.

  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar

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