Lubricated gravity currents of power-law fluids

P. Kumar, S. Zuri, D. Kogan, M. Gottlieb, R. Sayag

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The motion of glaciers over their bedrock or drops of fluid along a solid surface can vary dramatically when these substrates are lubricated. We investigate the coupled flow of a gravity current (GC) of a strain-rate softening fluid that is lubricated by a denser, lower-viscosity Newtonian fluid. We present a set of experiments in which such GCs are discharged axisymmetrically and at constant flux over a flat surface. Using imaging techniques, we follow the evolution of the front and thickness field of each fluid. We find that, unlike purely Newtonian lubricated GCs, the fronts of the non-Newtonian and lubricating Newtonian fluids have a power-law time evolution with different exponents. Each of these exponents is similar to that of a non-lubricated GC of the same fluid. Nevertheless, the fronts of our lubricated GCs evolve faster than those of the corresponding non-lubricated GCs owing to larger intercepts. In addition, in contrast with the monotonically declining thickness of non-lubricated GCs, the thickness of the lubricated, non-Newtonian fluid is nearly uniform, and that of the lubricating fluid is non-monotonic with localised spikes. Despite these complex thickness patterns, lubricated GCs remain axisymmetric as long as the flux of the lubricating fluid is sufficiently smaller than that of the non-Newtonian fluid.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberA33
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • complex fluids
  • geophysical and geological flows
  • interfacial flows (free surface)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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