The rotating bucket of sand: Experiment and theory

G. W. Baxter, C. Yeung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The surface shape of a bucket of sand rotating about its cylindrical axis is studied experimentally and theoretically. Focusing on fast time scales on which surface shape is determined by avalanches, we identify three regimes of behavior. At intermediate and high frequencies, the surface shape is always at its critical shape determined by the Coulomb yield condition. The low frequency behavior displays an unexpected subcritical region at the center of the bucket. To understand this central region, we adapt a continuum model of surface flow developed by Bouchaud et al. and Mehta et al. The model indicates that the subcritical region is due to a nonlinear instability mechanism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)631-638
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)
  • Applied Mathematics


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