S.J. de Vet
A.C. in 't Veld
- Static and dynamic angles of repose in loose granular materials under reduced gravity
- Journal of Geophysical Research
- Volume | Issue number
- 116 | E11
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Science (FNWI)
- Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED)
Granular materials avalanche when a static angle of repose is exceeded and freeze at a dynamic angle of repose. Such avalanches occur subaerially on steep hillslopes and wind dunes and subaqueously at the lee side of deltas. Until now it has been assumed that the angles of repose are independent of gravitational acceleration. The objective of this work is to experimentally determine whether the angles of repose depend on gravity. In 33 parabolic flights in a well-controlled research aircraft we recorded avalanching granular materials in rotating drums at effective gravitational accelerations of 0.1, 0.38 and 1.0 times the terrestrial value. The granular materials varied in particle size and rounding and had air or water as interstitial fluid. Materials with angular grains had time-averaged angles of about 40° and with rounded grains about 25° for all effective gravitational accelerations, except the finest glass beads in air, which was explained by static electricity. For all materials, the static angle of repose increases about 5° with reduced gravity, whereas the dynamic angle decreases with about 10°. Consequently, the avalanche size increases with reduced gravity. The experimental results suggest that relatively low slopes of granular material on Mars may have formed by dry flows without a lubricating fluid. On asteroids even lower slopes are expected. The dependence on gravity of angle of repose may require reanalysis of models for many phenomena involving sediment, also at much lower slope angles.
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