Convection and flow in porous media. Part 2. Visualization by shadowgraph

L. E. Howle, R. P. Behringer, J. G. Georgiadis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We present results for pattern formation at the onset of convection in fluid-saturated porous media obtained by a novel variation on the shadowgraphic technique (modified shadowgraphic technique). Both ordered and disordered media are used, each exhibiting distinct behaviour. Ordered porous media are constructed from grids of overlapping bars. Convective onset in this type of medium is characterized by a sharp, well-defined bifurcation to straight parallel rolls. The orientation of the convection rolls is determined by the number of bar layers, Nb; odd Nb leads to rolls with axes perpendicular to the direction of the top and bottom bars, and even Nb to rolls at 45° to the bars. Disordered porous layers are produced by stacking randomly drilled disks separated by spacers. In this system, we observe a rounded bifurcation to convection with localized convection near convective onset. More specifically, the flow patterns take on one of several different three-dimensional cellular structures after each cycling through convective onset. These observations may be described by two different mechanisms: random spatial fluctuations in the Rayleigh number (Zimmermann et al. 1993), and/or spatial variation in the thermal conductivity on the length scale of the convection wavelength (Braester & Vadasz 1993).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)247-262
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - Feb 10 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


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