Propagation regimes of interfacial solitary waves in a three-layer fluid
Abstract. Long weakly nonlinear finite-amplitude internal waves in a fluid consisting of three inviscid layers of arbitrary thickness and constant densities (stable configuration, Boussinesq approximation) bounded by a horizontal rigid bottom from below and by a rigid lid at the surface are described up to the second order of perturbation theory in small parameters of nonlinearity and dispersion. First, a pair of alternatives of appropriate KdV-type equations with the coefficients depending on the parameters of the fluid (layer positions and thickness, density jumps) are derived for the displacements of both modes of internal waves and for each interface between the layers. These equations are integrable for a very limited set of coefficients and do not allow for proper description of several near-critical cases when certain coefficients vanish. A more specific equation allowing for a variety of solitonic solutions and capable of resolving most near-critical situations is derived by means of the introduction of another small parameter that describes the properties of the medium and rescaling of the ratio of small parameters. This procedure leads to a pair of implicitly interrelated alternatives of Gardner equations (KdV-type equations with combined nonlinearity) for the two interfaces. We present a detailed analysis of the relationships for the solutions for the disturbances at both interfaces and various regimes of the appearance and propagation properties of soliton solutions to these equations depending on the combinations of the parameters of the fluid. It is shown that both the quadratic and the cubic nonlinear terms vanish for several realistic configurations of such a fluid.