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Density Currents
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Density Currents

June 25, 2010
Density Currents A visualization of the concentration field in a gravity current computed with direct numerical simulation at Re=9000. Several instabilities observed in experiments can be clearly seen in the figure such as Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices and lobes and clefts forming at the bottom of the current. Avalanches, oil spills, thunderstorm fronts, or a dust cloud following a building collapse all generate heavier fluid intrusions into a lighter environment. These are called density currents. Engineers study these 3-Dimensional flows--frequently immeasurable due to their destructive power--using mathematical modeling and large scale simulations. These models give engineers a better understanding of the flow's dynamics and turbulent structures and how particles mix and move within it. (Date of Image: May 2006)