Dynamics of migrating sand dunes interacting with obstacles

Karol A. Bacik, Priscilla Canizares, Colm Cille P. Caulfield, Michael J. Williams, Nathalie M. Vriend

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5 Citations (SciVal)


Wind- and water-driven migrating sand dunes frequently interact with elevated natural and artificial topographical features. The dune-obstacle interaction can alter the migrating behavior of the dune and, depending on the nature of the obstacle, it may generate various societal and technological risks. Here we study the problem of dune-obstacle interaction in a paradigmatic quasi-two-dimensional domain realized in a subaqueous laboratory experiment. Generically, dunes interact with obstacles either by crossing over the obstacle or by being trapped. We describe how the selection of these two distinct dynamical behaviors depends on the size and shape of the obstacle, focusing in particular on the fluid flow in the immediate vicinity of the obstacle. Specifically, we perform a modal decomposition of the measured flow field and we discover that the outcome of the dune-obstacle interaction is closely related to the flow structure above the obstacle.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104308
JournalPhysical Review Fluids
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
K.A.B. acknowledges the support of a sponsored PhD studentship from Schlumberger Cambridge Research. N.M.V. is supported by a Royal Society University Research Fellowship URF/R1/191332. The authors thank Prof. Stuart Dalziel and the technical team of the GK Batchelor laboratory as well as Dr. Paul Jarvis.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Modelling and Simulation
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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