Research

Impacts on Sand

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Granular materials like sand are sometimes very fluid-like in their behaviors. The high-speed video above shows a ball bearing being dropped into packed sand. Many features of the splash are fluid-like; the initial impact creates a spreading crownlike splash, followed by a strong upward jet that eventually collapses back into the medium. At the same time, many of the impact characteristics are decidedly non-fluidic. Sand has no surface tension, so both the crown and the jet readily break up into small particles. The granular jet is very narrow and energetic, reaching heights greater than the impacter’s drop height. Interestingly, the column begins collapsing on its lower end before the jet even reaches its highest peak. This may be due to the lower energy of the sand particles that were ejected later in the crater formation process. (Video credit: J. Verschuur, B. van Capelleveen, R. Lammerink and T. Nguyen)

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