Experimental and numerical investigation of density current over macro-roughness

Y. Jiang, Xiaofeng Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The dynamics of density current over a bottom covered by macro-roughness elements were investigated by laboratory experiments and a computational model using large eddy simulations. The macro-roughness considered had significant size in comparison with the scale of density current. Five different roughness conditions were considered, namely flat bottom (for reference), half spheres, fine gravels, medium gravels, and large gravels. These bottom conditions had variations in roughness element size, shape, angularity, and spatial configuration. The density current was a lock-exchange type with a density difference of 1% between the two fluids initially separated by a gate in the middle. In the computational model, the roughness was captured using two different methods depending on the size of the roughness elements. For the large roughness elements, i.e., the half spheres and the medium and large gravels, an immersed boundary method was used to resolve the surface of each gravel, which was obtained through 3D laser scanning. The realistic and physically correct placement of these scanned objects in the simulation domain was achieved using a computer tool which can detect the collision of rigid bodies and simulate their dynamics. For the fine gravels, a rough wall function was used. The computational model was validated with the data measured in the experiments, including front position and velocity, and point velocity measurement within the current. The results show that density currents over macro-roughness have distinct behavior from those over a smooth boundary. The characteristics (size, angularity, and pavement pattern) of the macro-roughness play a key role in the current development. Macro-roughness significantly retards the front propagation and enhances entrainment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-116
Number of pages20
JournalEnvironmental Fluid Mechanics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Water Science and Technology


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