Turbidity current dynamics - modelling sediment avalanches in the ocean

29 November 2011

Turbidity currents are fast-moving streams of sediment in the ocean 
which have the power to erode the sea floor and damage man-made
infrastructure anchored to the bed. They can travel for hundreds of
kilometres from the continental shelf to the deep ocean, but they are
unpredictable and can occur randomly without much warning making them
hard to observe and measure. Our main aim is to determine the distance
downstream at which the current will become extinct. We consider the
fluid model of Parker et al. [1986] and derive a simple shallow-water
description of the current which we examine numerically and analytically
to identify supercritical and subcritical flow regimes. We then focus on
the solution of the complete model and provide a new description of the
turbulent kinetic energy. This extension of the model involves switching
from a turbulent to laminar flow regime and provides an improved
description of the extinction process. 

  • Junior Applied Mathematics Seminar