The dynamics of a three-dimensional gravity current is investigated by both laboratory experiments and numerical simulations. The experiments take place in a rectangular tank, which is divided into two square reservoirs with a wall containing a sliding gate of width b. The two reservoirs are filled to the same height H, one with salt water and the other with fresh water. The gravity current starts its evolution as soon as the sliding gate is manually opened. Experiments are conducted with either smooth or rough surface on the bottom of the tank. The bottom roughness is created by gluing sediment material of different diameters to the surface. Five diameter values for the surface roughness and two salinity conditions for the fluid are investigated. The mathematical model is based on shallow-water theory together with the single-layer approximation, so that the model is strictly hyperbolic and can be put into conservative form. Consequently, a finite-volume-based numerical algorithm can be applied. The Godunov formulation is used together with Roe's approximate Riemann solver. Comparisons between the numerical and experimental results show satisfactory agreement. The behavior of the gravity current is quite unusual and cannot be interpreted using the usual model framework adopted for two-dimensional and axisymmetric gravity currents. Two main phases are apparent in the gravity current evolution; during the first phase the front velocity increases, and during the second phase the front velocity decreases and the dimensionless results, relative to the different densities, collapse onto the same curve. A systematic discrepancy is seen between the numerical and experimental results, mainly during the first phase of the gravity current evolution. This discrepancy is attributed to the limits of the mathematical formulation, in particular, the neglect of entrainment in the mathematical model. An interesting result arises from the influence of the bottom surface roughness; it both reduces the front velocity during the second phase of motion and attenuates the differences between the experimental and numerical front velocities during the first phase of motion. © 2008 American Institute of Physics.
LA ROCCA, M., Adduce, C., Sciortino, G., Pinzon, A.B. (2008). Experimental and numerical simulation of three-dimensional gravity currents on smooth and rough bottom. PHYSICS OF FLUIDS, 20(10), 106603 [10.1063/1.3002381].