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Observations of rapidly flowing granular-fluid materials

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 April 2006

Daniel M. Hanes
Center for Coastal Studies, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093 Present address: Division of Applied Marine Physics, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Miami, Florida 33149.
Douglas L. Inman
Center for Coastal Studies, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093


The rapid shearing of a mixture of cohesionless glass spheres and air or water was studied in an annular, parallel-plate shear cell designed after Savage (1978). Two types of flow were observed. In the first type of flow the entire mass of the granular material was mobilized. At high shear rates the shear and normal stresses were found to be quadratically dependent upon the mean shear rate (at constant volume concentration), in general agreement with the observations of Bagnold (1954) and Savage & Sayed (1984), and the ‘kinetic’ theory of Jenkins & Savage (1983). The stresses were found to be weakly dependent on the volume concentration up to approximately 0.5, and strongly dependent above this concentration. For flows in which water was the interstitial fluid, the ratio of the shear stress to the normal stress was slightly higher (than in air), and the stresses at lower shear rates were found to be more nearly linearly related to the shear rate. It is suggested that these effects are contributed to by the viscous dampening of grain motions by the water. The second type of flow was distinguished by the existence of an internal boundary above which the granular material deformed rapidly, but below which the granular material remained rigidly locked in place. The thickness of the shearing layer was measured to be between 5 and 15 grain diameters. The stress ratio at the bottom of the shearing layer was found to be nearly constant, suggesting the internal boundary is a consequence of the immersed weight of the shearing grains, and may be described by a Coulomb yield criterion. A scaled concentration is proposed to compare similar data obtained using different-sized materials or different apparatus. An intercomparison of the two types of flow studied, along with a comparison between the present experiments and those of Bagnold (1954) and Savage & Sayed (1984), suggests that the nature of the boundaries can have a significant effect upon the dynamics of the entire flow.

Research Article
© 1985 Cambridge University Press

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