Collapse of a rectangular well in a quasi-two-dimensional granular bed

Simon J. De Vet, Bereket Yohannes, K. M. Hill, John R. De Bruyn

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We report on an experimental and numerical study of the collapse under gravity of a rectangular well in a quasi-two-dimensional granular bed. For comparison, we also perform experiments on the collapse of a single vertical step. Experiments are conducted in a vertical Hele-Shaw cell, which allows the flow to be recorded from the side using high-speed video. If the rectangular well is sufficiently narrow, the collapsing sidewalls collide at the center of the well and the dynamics of the collapse are dependant on the aspect ratio of the initial well. We follow the evolution of the free surface from the video images, and use particle image velocimetry to determine the subsurface velocity field. From these data, the potential and kinetic energy of the system are calculated. We observe two stages to the collapse flow: an initial gravity-dominated stage, during which the kinetic energy increases, and a later dissipation-dominated phase during which the kinetic energy decreases. We find that although both the width and depth of the depression that remains after the well has collapsed depend on the initial aspect ratio, the surface profiles are self-similar; that is, the shape of the final profile is independent of the aspect ratio of the initial well. We model the collapse of the well using a depth-averaged continuum model with basal friction and with a discrete element model. Both models give results which agree well with experiment. The discrete element model indicates that friction between the particles is the most important source of dissipation over the course of the collapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number041304
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 21 2010

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