Research Papers: Flows in Complex Systems

Canyoneering Fluid Mechanics

[+] Author and Article Information
Christopher Earls Brennen

Fellow ASME
Richard L. and Dorothy M. Hayman Professor of
Mechanical Engineering, Emeritus
Department of Mechanical
and Civil Engineering,
Mail Code 104-44,
California Institute of Technology,
Pasadena, CA 91125
e-mail: brennen@caltech.edu

Contributed by the Fluids Engineering Division of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF FLUIDS ENGINEERING. Manuscript received December 10, 2015; final manuscript received May 26, 2016; published online August 4, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Francine Battaglia.

J. Fluids Eng 138(10), 101102 (Aug 04, 2016) (5 pages) Paper No: FE-15-1912; doi: 10.1115/1.4034003 History: Received December 10, 2015; Revised May 26, 2016

Extreme sports such as canyoneering have expanded greatly since the turn of the century yet little scientific attention has been paid to the analyses of the dangers of those activities. The author was much involved in promoting one such sport, namely canyoneering, and presents this paper as an example of the kind of fluids engineering analyses that are needed in order to objectively quantify those dangers and properly advise the participants. In canyoneering, the primary fluid-related sources of danger are the impact of falling water on the human body and the dangers a swimmer faces in a plunge pool. This paper presents rough evaluations of both dangers.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME
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Brennen, C. E. , 1996, “ Adventure Hikes and Canyoneering in the San Gabriels,” Dankat Publishing, Pasadena, CA.
Brennen, C. E. , 1998, “ Adventure Hikes and Canyoneering in the Southwest,” Dankat Publishing, Pasadena, CA.
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Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 1

The author on a dry descent in Grand Staircase/Escalante National Park (Egypt 2 Canyon) and on wet descents in the San Gabriel Mountains (Great Falls of the Fox) and the North Fork of the Kings River, Sierra Nevada Mountains, California. Photographs by Mark Duttweiler and Randi Poer.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 4

Schematic of the flow over the lip of a waterfall

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Fig. 3

Examples of measured velocity magnitudes and directions in a plunge pool. Adapted from Ref. [7].

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 2

Schematic of a waterfall and plunge pool. Adapted from USGS diagram.

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 5

The estimated “maximum mass”, FM* (in kg), plotted as a function of the maximum depth of the stream at the lip, h (in m), and the breadth of the stream at the lip, b (in m)

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 6

Schematic of plunge pool vortices

Grahic Jump Location
Fig. 7

Example of plunge pool violence during a white-water descent of the Great Falls of the Fox in the San Gabriel mountains of California. Photograph by Mark Duttweiler.



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