Comparing the transitional behaviour of kaolinite and bentonite suspension flows

Jaco H. Baas, James L. Best, Jeff Peakall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Past research has demonstrated the dramatic effects that variations in suspended clay can have on the properties of flow by producing a range of transitional flows between turbulent and laminar states, depending on clay concentration and fluid shear. Past studies have been restricted to kaolinite flows, a clay mineral that has relatively weak cohesive properties. This paper extends these studies to suspension flows of bentonite, a clay mineral that attains higher viscosities at far lower volumetric concentrations within a flow. The results show that the types of transitional flow behaviour recognized in past studies can also be found in bentonite suspension flows, but at lower suspended sediment concentrations, thus demonstrating an even more dramatic effect on flow properties, and potentially on sediment transport and resulting bed morphology, than kaolinite flows. The paper proposes new stability diagrams for the phase space of bentonite flows and compares these to past work on kaolinite suspension flows. These new data suggest that the transitional-flow Reynolds number can be used to delineate the types of transitional flow across different clay types and assess modern and ancient clay-suspension flows.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1911-1921
Number of pages11
JournalEarth Surface Processes and Landforms
Issue number13
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • bentonite
  • cohesion
  • flume experiments
  • kaolinite
  • transitional flow

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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