Drivers for mass and momentum exchange between the main channel and river bank lateral cavities

Pablo Ouro, Carmelo Juez, Mário Franca

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Large-Eddy Simulations (LES) are used to investigate the governing processes involved in mass and momentum transfer between the flow in the main channel and symmetrically-distributed lateral bank cavities. In-cavity free-surface velocities, based on laboratory measurements made in an open channel, are used to validate the numerical results. A main vortical structure dominates the in-cavity flow which, despite the shallow nature of the flow, features a remarked three dimensional dynamics. LES results outline the largest velocities through the mouth of the cavity are attained in two thin regions near the bottom-bed and free-surface. In the shear layers established between the main channel and cavities is where the main transfer of turbulent momentum is made between these two flow regions, and the numerical simulations capture well the instantaneous coherent flow structures, e.g. Kelvin-Helmholtz vortices. LES captures a low-frequency standing wave phenomenon even with a rigid-lid approximation adopted at the free-surface boundary. Momentum exchange between cavities and main channel is analysed using the Reynolds Averaged momentum equation in the transverse direction, revealing that the pressure gradient term is the unique contributor to flushing momentum out of the cavities whilst convection and Reynolds normal stress terms are responsible for its entraining into the cavity. Furthermore, sediment deposition areas documented in the laboratory experiments are linked with the simulated hydrodynamics, which correlate with regions of low turbulent kinetic energy and vertical velocities near the bottom of the channel. Overall, the results shed new light into the complex mechanisms involved in mass and momentum transfer; this will aid to design embayments more efficiently regarding sediment transport processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103511
Number of pages14
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Hydrodynamics
  • Large-Eddy Simulation
  • Mass transport
  • Open channel flow
  • River bank embayments
  • Turbulence

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