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Morphodynamics of barchan-barchan interactions investigated at the grain scale
  • Willian Righi Assis,
  • Erick Franklin
Willian Righi Assis
UNICAMP - University of Campinas, UNICAMP - University of Campinas
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Erick Franklin
UNICAMP - University of Campinas, UNICAMP - University of Campinas

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Corridors of size-selected crescent-shaped dunes, known as barchans, are commonly found in water, air, and other planetary environments. The growth of barchans results from the interplay between a fluid flow and a granular bed, but their size regulation involves intricate exchanges between different barchans within a field. One size-regulating mechanism is the binary interaction between nearby dunes, when two dunes exchange mass via the near flow field or by direct contact (collision). In a recent Letter (Assis & Franklin, GRL, 2020), we identified five different patterns arising from binary interactions of subaqueous barchans, and proposed classification maps. In this paper, we further inquire into binary exchanges by investigating the motion of individual grains while barchans interact with each other. The experiments were conducted in a water channel where the evolution of pairs of barchans in both aligned and off-centered configurations was recorded by conventional and high-speed cameras. Based on image processing, we obtained the morphology of dunes and motion of grains for all interaction patterns. We present the trajectories of individual grains, from which we show the origin and destination of moving grains, and their typical lengths and velocities. We also show that grains from the impacting dune spread with a diffusion-like component over the target barchan, and we propose a diffusion length. Our results provide new insights into the size-regulating mechanisms of barchans and barchanoid forms found on Earth and other planets.
Aug 2021Published in Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface volume 126 issue 8. 10.1029/2021JF006237