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Turbulence Processes within Turbidity Currents

Wells, Mathew G.; Dorrell, Robert M.


Mathew G. Wells


Sediment-laden gravity currents, or turbidity currents, are density-driven flows that transport vast quantities of particulate material across the floor of lakes and oceans. Turbidity currents are generated by slope failure or initiated when a sediment-laden flow enters into a lake or ocean; here, lofting or convective sedimentation processes may control flow dynamics. Depending upon the internal turbulent mixing, which keeps particles in suspension, turbidity currents can travel for thousands of kilometers across the seafloor. However, despite several competing theories, the process for the ultralong runout of these flows remains enigmatic. Turbidity currents often generate large sinuous channel-levee systems, and the dynamics of how turbidity currents flow around channel bends are strongly influenced by internal density and velocity structure, with large-scale flows being modified by the Coriolis force. Therefore, understanding some of the largest sedimentary structures on the Earth's surface depends on understanding the turbulence processes within turbidity currents.


Wells, M. G., & Dorrell, R. M. (2021). Turbulence Processes within Turbidity Currents. Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics, 53(1), 59-83.

Journal Article Type Review
Acceptance Date Jul 15, 2020
Online Publication Date Jul 15, 2020
Publication Date Jan 5, 2021
Deposit Date Oct 21, 2020
Journal Annual Review of Fluid Mechanics
Print ISSN 0066-4189
Electronic ISSN 1545-4479
Publisher Annual Reviews
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 53
Issue 1
Pages 59-83
Keywords Turbidity current; Basal drag coefficient; Entrainment ratio; Sinuouschannel; Convective sedimentation; Coriolis force
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