Abstract

Two series of experiments were performed in a lucite flume 5 meters long, 50 cm deep, and 15.4 cm wide. In the first series saline density currents were formed by pumping salt solutions at constant discharge into the tilted flume. In the second series, the flume was horizontal and turbidity currents were formed by the releasing of suspensions of plastic beads from a box at one end.In both series of experiments a characteristic head was formed at the front of the flow. It was found that the motion of the head in the turbidity current experiments was closely described by laws developed by Keulegan (1958) for saline surges, and it is concluded that certain aspects of the motion of turbidity current heads can be investigated indirectly by means of experiments on density currents formed from clay suspensions or salt solutions.The salt-solution experiments were designed to investigate the effect of bottom slope on the motion of density current heads. It was found that the velocity of density (and by inference, turbidity) current heads on slopes up to 4% is adequately expressed by Keulegan's formulagraphicwhere v is the velocity of the head, Δρ is the difference between the density of the current (ρ) and that of the overlying water, d2 is the thickness of the head, and g is the acceleration due to gravity. The numerical coefficient is approximately constant, but may increase slightly with increase in slope. The form of the equation differs greatly from that of the Chézy equation which has previously been used for the analysis of the movement of turbidity currents.Observations were also made regarding the shape of the head and the motion within and in front of the head.

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