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The present work reports some new aspects of non-axisymmetric gravity currents obtained from laboratory experiments, fully resolved simulations and box models. Following the earlier work of Zgheib et al. (Theor. Comput. Fluid Dyn., vol. 28, 2014, pp. 521–529) which demonstrated that gravity currents initiating from non-axisymmetric cross-sectional geometries do not become axisymmetric, nor do they retain their initial shape during the slumping and inertial phases of spreading, we show that such non-axisymmetric currents eventually reach a self-similar regime during which (i) the local front propagation scales as t1/2 as in circular releases and (ii) the non-axisymmetric front has a self-similar shape that primarily depends on the aspect ratio of the initial release. Complementary experiments of non-Boussinesq currents and top-spreading currents suggest that this self-similar dynamics is independent of the density ratio, vertical aspect ratio, wall friction and Reynolds number Re , provided the last is large, i.e. Re⩾O(104) . The local instantaneous front Froude number obtained from the fully resolved simulations is compared to existing models of Froude functions. The recently reported extended box model is capable of capturing the dynamics of such non-axisymmetric flows. Here we use the extended box model to propose a relation for the self-similar horizontal aspect ratio χ∞ of the propagating front as a function of the initial horizontal aspect ratio χ0 , namely χ∞=1+(lnχ0)/3 . The experimental and numerical results are in good agreement with the proposed relation.


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Journal of Fluid Mechanics





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