A unified model of ripples and dunes in water and planetary environments

Orencio Duran Vinent, Bruno Andreotti, Philippe Claudin and Christian Winter, Nature Geoscience (2019)

Subaqueous and aeolian bedforms are ubiquitous on Earth and other planetary environments. However, it is still unclear which hydrodynamic mechanisms lead to the observed variety of morphologies of self-organized natural patterns such as ripples, dunes or compound bedforms. Here we present simulations with a coupled hydrodynamic and sediment transport model that resolve the initial and mature stages of subaqueous and aeolian bedform evolution in the limit of large flow thickness. We identify two types of bedforms consistent with subaqueous ripples and dunes, and separated by a gap in wavelength. This gap is explained in terms of an anomalous hydrodynamic response in the structure of the inner boundary layer that leads to a shift of the position of the maximum shear stress from upstream to downstream of the crest. This anomaly gradually disappears when the bed becomes hydrodynamically rough. By also considering the effect of the spatial relaxation of sediment transport we provide a new unifying framework to compare ripples and dunes in planetary environments to their terrestrial counterparts.

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