Cruising the Caribbean, coring the ocean and constructing similarity solutions for turbidity currents

16 November 2012
Dr Andrew J. Hogg
Turbidity currents - submarine flows of sediment - are capable of transporting particulate material over large distance. However direct observations of them are extremely rare and much is inferred from the deposits they leave behind, even though the characteristics of their source are often not known. The submarine flows of volcanic ash from the Soufriere Hills Volcano, Monsterrat provide a unique opportunity to study a particle-driven flow and the deposit it forms, because the details of the source are relatively well constrained and through ocean drilling, the deposit is well sampled. We have formed simple mathematical models of this motion that capture ash transport and deposit. Our description brings out two dynamical features that strongly influence the motion and which have previously often been neglected, namely mixing between the particulate flow and the oceanic water and the distribution of sizes suspended by the flow. We show how, in even simple situations, these processes alter our views of how these currents propagate.
  • Mathematical Geoscience Seminar