Evolution of fluid-like granular ejecta generated by sphere impact

Jeremy Marston, Erqiang Li, Sigurdur T Thoroddsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


We present results from an experimental study of the speed and shape of the ejecta formed when a solid sphere impacts onto a granular bed. We use high-speed imaging at frame rates up to 100 000 f.p.s. to provide direct measurement of individual grain velocities and ejecta angles as well as the overall evolution of the granular ejecta. For larger grain sizes, the emergence velocities of the grains during the early stage flow, i.e. before the main ejecta curtain forms, increase with the kinetic energy of the impacting sphere but are inversely proportional to the time from impact. We also observe that the fastest grains, which can obtain velocities up to five times that of the impacting sphere (V g/V 0 = 5), generally emerge at the earliest times and with the lowest ejection angles. As the grain size is decreased, a more fluid-like behaviour is observed whereby the ejected material first emerges as a thin sheet of grains between the sphere and the bed surface, which is also seen when a sphere impacts a liquid pool. In this case, the sheet velocity is approximately double that of the impacting sphere (V s/V 0 = 2) and independent of the bulk packing fraction. For the finest grains we provide evidence of the existence of a vortex ring inside the ejecta curtain where grains following the air flow are entrained through the curtain. In contrast to predictions from previous studies, we find that the temporal evolution of the ejecta neck radius is not initially quadratic but rather approaches a square-root dependence on time, for the finest grains with the highest impact kinetic energy. The evolution therefore approaches that seen for the crown evolution in liquid drop impacts. By using both spherical glass beads and coarse sands, we show that the size and shape distribution are critical in determining the post-impact dynamics whereby the sands exhibit a qualitatively different response to impact, with grains ejected at lower speeds and at later times than for the glass beads. © 2012 Cambridge University Press.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-36
Number of pages32
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
StatePublished - May 1 2012

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This work was partially supported by an Academic Excellence Alliance grant awarded by the KAUST office of Competitive Research Funds number 7000000028.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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