Articles | Volume 10, issue 6
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 10, 545–555, 2003
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-10-545-2003
Nonlin. Processes Geophys., 10, 545–555, 2003
https://doi.org/10.5194/npg-10-545-2003

  31 Dec 2003

31 Dec 2003

Viscous heating in fluids with temperature-dependent viscosity: implications for magma flows

A. Costa2,1 and G. Macedonio3 A. Costa and G. Macedonio
  • 1Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra e Geologico-Ambientali, Università di Bologna, Italy
  • 2Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università degli Studi di Pisa, Italy
  • 3Osservatorio Vesuviano, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Napoli, Italy

Abstract. Viscous heating plays an important role in the dynamics of fluids with strongly temperature-dependent viscosity because of the coupling between the energy and momentum equations. The heat generated by viscous friction produces a local temperature increase near the tube walls with a consequent decrease of the viscosity which may dramatically change the temperature and velocity profiles. These processes are mainly controlled by the Peclét number, the Nahme number, the flow rate and the thermal boundary conditions. The problem of viscous heating in fluids was investigated in the past for its practical interest in the polymer industry, and was invoked to explain some rheological behaviours of silicate melts, but was not completely applied to study magma flows. In this paper we focus on the thermal and mechanical effects caused by viscous heating in tubes of finite lengths. We find that in magma flows at high Nahme number and typical flow rates, viscous heating is responsible for the evolution from Poiseuille flow, with a uniform temperature distribution at the inlet, to a plug flow with a hotter layer near the walls. When the temperature gradients  induced by viscous heating are very pronounced, local instabilities may occur and the triggering of secondary flows is possible. For completeness, this paper also describes magma flow in infinitely long tubes both at steady state and in transient phase.