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Rheology of three-phase suspensions determined via dam-break experiments

Birnbaum, Janine and Lev, Einat and Llewellin, Ed W. (2021) 'Rheology of three-phase suspensions determined via dam-break experiments.', Proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 477 (2254). p. 20210394.


Three-phase suspensions, of liquid that suspends dispersed solid particles and gas bubbles, are common in both natural and industrial settings. Their rheology is poorly constrained, particularly for high total suspended fractions (0.5). We use a dam-break consistometer to characterize the rheology of suspensions of (Newtonian) corn syrup, plastic particles and CO2 bubbles. The study is motivated by a desire to understand the rheology of magma and lava. Our experiments are scaled to the volcanic system: they are conducted in the non-Brownian, noninertial regime; bubble capillary number is varied across unity; and bubble and particle fractions are 0 ≤ φgas ≤ 0.82 and 0 ≤ φsolid ≤ 0.37, respectively. We measure flow-front velocity and invert for a Herschel–Bulkley rheology model as a function of φgas, φsolid, and the capillary number. We find a stronger increase in relative viscosity with increasing φgas in the low to intermediate capillary number regime than predicted by existing theory, and find both shear-thinning and shear-thickening effects, depending on the capillary number. We apply our model to the existing community code for lava flow emplacement, PyFLOWGO, and predict increased viscosity and decreased velocity compared with current rheological models, suggesting existing models may not adequately account for the role of bubbles in stiffening lavas.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
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Publisher statement:© 2021 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Date accepted:19 August 2021
Date deposited:07 October 2021
Date of first online publication:06 October 2021
Date first made open access:07 October 2021

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