Experimental observation of standing interfacial waves induced by surface waves in muddy water

Eric Maxeiner*, Robert A. Dalrymple

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


A striking feature has been observed in a laboratory wave tank with a thin layer of clear water overlying a layer of mud. A piston-type wave maker is used to generate long monochromatic surface waves in a tank with a layer of kaolinite clay at the bottom. The wave action on the mud causes the clay particles to rise from the bottom into the water column, forming a lutocline. As the lutocline approaches the water surface, a set of standing interfacial waves form on the lutocline. The interfacial wave directions are oriented nearly orthogonal to the surface wave direction. The interfacial waves, which sometimes cover the entire length and width of the tank, are also temporally subharmonic as the phase of the interfacial wave alternates with each passing surface wave crest. These interfacial waves are the result of a resonant three-wave interaction involving the surface wave train and the two interfacial wave trains. The interfacial waves are only present when the lutocline is about 3 cm of the water surface and they can be sufficiently nonlinear as to exhibit superharmonics and a breaking-type of instability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number096603
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 30 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics

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