Scaling of liquid-drop impact craters in wet granular media

Qianyun Zhang, Ming Gao, Runchen Zhao, Xiang Cheng

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18 Scopus citations


Combining high-speed photography with laser profilometry, we study the dynamics and the morphology of liquid-drop impact cratering in wet granular media - a ubiquitous phenomenon relevant to many important geological, agricultural, and industrial processes. By systematically investigating important variables such as impact energy, the size of impinging drops, and the degree of liquid saturation in granular beds, we uncover a scaling law for the size of impact craters. We show that this scaling can be explained by considering the balance between the inertia of impinging drops and the strength of impacted surface. Such a theoretical understanding confirms that the unique energy partition originally proposed for liquid-drop impact cratering in dry granular media also applies for impact cratering in wet granular media. Moreover, we demonstrate that compressive stresses, instead of shear stresses, control the process of granular impact cratering. Our study enriches the picture of generic granular impact cratering and sheds light on the familiar phenomena of raindrop impacts in granular media.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number042205
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 26 2015

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 American Physical Society.


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