Large particle segregation, transport and accumulation in granular free-surface flows

Gray, J. M.N.T. and Kokelaar, B.P. (2010) Large particle segregation, transport and accumulation in granular free-surface flows. Journal of Fluid Mechanics, 652. pp. 105-137.

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Particle size segregation can have a significant feedback on the motion of many hazardous geophysical mass flows such as debris flows, dense pyroclastic flows and snow avalanches. This paper develops a new depth-averaged theory for segregation that can easily be incorporated into the existing depth-averaged structure of typical models of geophysical mass flows. The theory is derived by depth-averaging the segregation-remixing equation for a bi-disperse mixture of large and small particles and assuming that (i) the avalanche is always inversely graded and (ii) there is a linear downslope velocity profile through the avalanche depth. Remarkably, the resulting ‘large particle transport equation’ is very closely related to the segregation equation from which it is derived. Large particles are preferentially transported towards the avalanche front and then accumulate there. This is important, because when this is combined with mobility feedback effects, the larger less mobile particles at the front can be continuously shouldered aside to spontaneously form lateral levees that channelize the flow and enhance run-out. The theory provides a general framework that will enable segregation-mobility feedback effects to be studied in detail for the first time. While the large particle transport equation has a very simple representation of the particle size distribution, it does a surprisingly good job of capturing solutions to the full theory once the grains have segregated into inversely graded layers. In particular, we show that provided the inversely graded interface does not break it has precisely the same solution as the full theory. When the interface does break, a concentration shock forms instead of a breaking size segregation wave, but the net transport of large particles towards the flow front is exactly the same. The theory can also model more complex effects in small-scale stratification experiments, where particles may either be brought to rest by basal deposition or by the upslope propagation of a granular bore. In the former case the resulting deposit is normally graded, while in the latter case it is inversely graded. These completely opposite gradings in the deposit arise from a parent flow that is inversely graded, which raises many questions about how to interpret geological deposits.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Four movies are available at
Subjects: MSC 2010, the AMS's Mathematics Subject Classification > 70 Mechanics of particles and systems
MSC 2010, the AMS's Mathematics Subject Classification > 76 Fluid mechanics
PACS 2010, the AIP's Physics and Astronomy Classification Scheme > 40 ELECTROMAGNETISM, OPTICS, ACOUSTICS, HEAT TRANSFER, CLASSICAL MECHANICS, AND FLUID MECHANICS > 46 Continuum mechanics of solids
Depositing User: Prof JMNT Gray
Date Deposited: 28 May 2010
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2017 14:12

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