Experimental study of incompressible Richtmyer-Meshkov instability

J. W. Jacobs, J. M. Sheeley

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138 Scopus citations


The Richtmyer-Meshkov instability of a two-liquid system is investigated experimentally. These experiments utilize a novel technique that circumvents many of the experimental difficulties that have previously limited the study of Richtmyer-Meshkov instability. The instability is generated by vertically accelerating a tank containing two stratified liquids by bouncing it off of a fixed coil spring. A controlled two-dimensional sinusoidal initial shape is given to the interface by oscillating the container in the horizontal direction to produce standing waves. The motion of the interface is recorded during the experiments using standard video photography. Instability growth rates are measured and compared with existing linear theory. Disagreement between measured growth rates and the theory are accredited to the finite bounce length. When the linear stability theory is modified to account for an acceleration pulse of finite duration, much better agreement is attained. Late time growth curves of many different experiments seem to collapse to a single curve when correlated with the circulation deposited by the impulsive acceleration. A theory based on modeling the late time evolution of the instability using a row of vortices is developed. The growth curve given by this model has similar shape to those measured, but underestimates the late-time growth rate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-415
Number of pages11
JournalPhysics of Fluids
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computational Mechanics
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes


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