Published online by Cambridge University Press: 26 April 2006
The evolution of a small but finite three-dimensional disturbance on a flat uniform vortex sheet is analysed on the basis of a Lagrangian representation of the motion. The sheet at time t is expanded in a double periodic Fourier series: R(λ1, λ2, t) = (λ1, λ2, 0) + Σn,mAn,m exp[i(nλ1 + δmλ2)], where λ1 and λ2 are Lagrangian parameters in the streamwise and spanwise directions, respectively, and δ is the aspect ratio of the periodic domain of the disturbance. By generalizing Moore's analysis for two-dimensional motion to three dimensions, we derive evolution equations for the Fourier coefficients An,m. The behaviour of An,m is investigated by both numerical integration of a set of truncated equations and a leading-order asymptotic analysis valid at large t. Both the numerical integration and the asymptotic analysis show that a singularity appears at a finite time tc = O(lnε−1) where ε is the amplitude of the initial disturbance. The singularity is such that An,0 = O(tc−1) behaves like n−5/2, while An,±1 = O(εtc) behaves like n−3/2 for large n. The evolution of A0,m(spanwise mode) is also studied by an asymptotic analysis valid at large t. The analysis shows that a singularity appears at a finite time t = O(ε−1) and the singularity is characterized by A0,2k ∝ k−5/2 for large k.