Department of Physics Papers

Document Type

Journal Article

Date of this Version



We probe the dynamics of intermittent avalanches caused by steady addition of grains to a quasi-twodimensional heap. To characterize the time-dependent average avalanche flow speed v(t), we image the top free surface. To characterize the grain fluctuation speed δv(t), we use speckle-visibility spectroscopy. During an avalanche, we find that the fluctuation speed is approximately one-tenth the average flow speed, δv ≈ 0.1v, and that these speeds are largest near the beginning of an event. We also find that the distribution of event durations is peaked, and that event sizes are correlated with the time interval since the end of the previous event. At high rates of grain addition, where successive avalanches merge into smooth continuous flow, the relationship between average and fluctuation speeds changes to δvv1/2.


A.R. Abate, H. Katsuragi, and D.J. Durian. (2007). "Avalanche statistics and time-resolved grain dynamics for a driven heap." Physical Review E. 76, 061301.

© 2007 The American Physical Society

Included in

Physics Commons



Date Posted: 27 January 2011

This document has been peer reviewed.