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A General Model for the Helical Structure of Geophysical Flows in Channel Bends

Azpiroz-Zabala, M.; Cartigny, M. J. B.; Sumner, E. J.; Clare, M. A.; Talling, P. J.; Parsons, D. R.; Cooper, C.


Meandering channels formed by geophysical flows (e.g., rivers and seafloor turbidity currents) include the most extensive sediment transport systems on Earth. Previous measurements from rivers show how helical flow at meander bends plays a key role in sediment transport and deposition. Turbidity currents differ from rivers in both density and velocity profiles. These differences, and the lack of field measurements from turbidity currents, have led to multiple models for their helical flow around bends. Here we present the first measurements of helical flow in submarine turbidity currents. These 10 flows lasted for 1–10 days, were up to ~80 m thick, and displayed a consistent helical structure. This structure comprised two vertically stacked cells, with the bottom cell rotating in the opposite direction to helical flow in rivers. Furthermore, we propose a general model that predicts the range of helical flow structures observed in rivers, estuaries, and turbidity currents based on their density stratification.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Dec 16, 2017
Print ISSN 0094-8276
Electronic ISSN 1944-8007
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 44
Issue 23
Pages 11,932-11,941
Keywords General Earth and Planetary Sciences; Geophysics
Publisher URL
Copyright Statement ©2017. The Authors.This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use,distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


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