The flow over a cavity at a Mach number 0.8 is considered. The cavity is deep with an aspect ratio (length over depth) L/D = 0.42. This deep cavity flow exhibits several features that makes it different from shallower cavities. It is subjected to very regular self-sustained oscillations with a highly two-dimensional and periodic organization of the mixing layer over the cavity. This is revealed by means of a high-speed schlieren technique. Analysis of pressure signals shows that the first tone mode is the strongest, the others being close to harmonics. This departs from shallower cavity flows where the tones are usually predicted well by the standard Rossiter’s model. A two-component laser-Doppler velocimetry system is also used to characterize the phase-averaged properties of the flow. It is shown that the formation of coherent vortices in the region close to the boundary layer separation has some resemblance to the ‘collective interaction mechanism’ introduced by Ho & Huang (1982) to describe mixing layers subjected to strong sub-harmonic forcing. Otherwise, the conditional statistics show close similarities with those found in classical forced mixing layers except for the production of random perturbations, which reaches a maximum in the structure centres, not in the hyperbolic regions with which turbulence production is usually associated. An attempt is made to relate this difference to the elliptic instability that may be observed here thanks to the particularly well-organized nature of the flow.
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