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Inadequacy of fluvial energetics for describing gravity current autosuspension

Fukuda, Sojiro; de Vet, Marijke G.W.; Skevington, Edward W.G.; Bastianon, Elena; Fernández, Roberto; Wu, Xuxu; McCaffrey, William D.; Naruse, Hajime; Parsons, Daniel R.; Dorrell, Robert M.


Sojiro Fukuda

Marijke G.W. de Vet

Elena Bastianon

Roberto Fernández

William D. McCaffrey

Hajime Naruse

Daniel R. Parsons


Gravity currents, such as sediment-laden turbidity currents, are ubiquitous natural flows that are driven by a density difference. Turbidity currents have provided vital motivation to advance understanding of this class of flows because their enigmatic long run-out and driving mechanisms are not properly understood. Extant models assume that material transport by gravity currents is dynamically similar to fluvial flows. Here, empirical research from different types of particle-driven gravity currents is integrated with our experimental data, to show that material transport is fundamentally different from fluvial systems. Contrary to current theory, buoyancy production is shown to have a non-linear dependence on available flow power, indicating an underestimation of the total kinetic energy lost from the mean flow. A revised energy budget directly implies that the mixing efficiency of gravity currents is enhanced.


Fukuda, S., de Vet, M. G., Skevington, E. W., Bastianon, E., Fernández, R., Wu, X., …Dorrell, R. M. (2023). Inadequacy of fluvial energetics for describing gravity current autosuspension. Nature communications, 14(1), Article 2288.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 24, 2023
Online Publication Date Apr 21, 2023
Publication Date Apr 21, 2023
Deposit Date Apr 28, 2023
Publicly Available Date Apr 28, 2023
Journal Nature communications
Electronic ISSN 2041-1723
Publisher Nature Publishing Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 1
Article Number 2288
Keywords Fluid dynamics; Hydrology; Ocean sciences; Sedimentology
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© The Author(s) 2023.<br /> Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit

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