Surface curvature of steady granular flows

Jim N. McElwaine*, Daisuke Takagi, Herbert E. Huppert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Laboratory experiments have shown that the steady flow of granular material down a rough inclined plane has a surface that is not parallel to the plane, but has a curvature across the slope with the height increasing toward the middle of the flow. We study this observation by postulating a new granular rheology, similar to that of a second order fluid. This model is applied to the experiments using a shallow water approximation, given that the depth of the flow is much smaller than the width. The model predicts that a second normal stress difference allows cross-slope height variations to develop in regions with considerable cross-slope velocity shear, consistent with the experiments. The model also predicts the development of lateral eddies, which are yet to be observed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-234
Number of pages6
JournalGranular Matter
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


  • Levée formation
  • Normal stress difference
  • Shallow granular flow


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