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Flow structure of turbidity currents



A two-dimensional numerical model is used to describe the flow structure of turbidity currents in a vertical plane. To test the accuracy of the model, it is applied to historical flows in Bute Inlet and the Grand Banks flow. The two-dimensional spatial and temporal distributions of velocity and sediment concentration and non-dimensionalized vertical profiles of velocity, turbulent kinetic energy and sediment concentration are discussed for several simple computational currents. The flows show a clear interaction between velocity, turbulence and sediment distribution. The results of the numerical tests show that flows with fine-grained sediment have low vertical and high horizontal gradients of velocity and sediment concentration, show little increase in flow thickness and decelerate slowly. Steadiness and uniformity in these flows are comparable for velocity and concentration. In contrast, flows with coarse-grained sediment have high vertical and low horizontal velocity gradients and high horizontal concentration gradients. These flows grow considerably in thickness and decelerate rapidly. Steadiness and uniformity in flows with coarse-grained sediment are different for velocity and concentration. The results show the influence of spatial and temporal flow structure on flow duration and sediment transport.