Internal wave attractors in 3D geometries: A dynamical systems approach

Grimaud Pillet, Leo R. M. Maas, Thierry Dauxois

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We study the propagation in three dimensions of internal waves using ray tracing methods and traditional dynamical systems theory. The wave propagation on a cone that generalizes the Saint Andrew's cross justifies the introduction of an angle of propagation that allows to describe the position of the wave ray in the horizontal plane. Considering the evolution of this reflection angle for waves that repeatedly reflect off an inclined slope, a new trapping mechanism emerges that displays the tendency to align this angle with the upslope gradient.In the rather simple geometry of a translationally invariant canal, we show first that this configuration leads to trapezium-shaped attractors, very similar to what has been extensively studied in two dimensions. However, we also establish a direct link between the trapping and the existence of two-dimensional attractors.In a second stage, considering a geometry that is not translationally invariant, closer to realistic configurations, we prove that although there are no two-dimensional attractors, one can find a structure in three-dimensional space with properties similar to internal wave attractors: a one-dimensional attracting manifold. Moreover, as this structure is unique, it should be easy to visualize in laboratory experiments since energy injected in the domain would eventually be confined to a very thin region in threedimensional space, for which reason it is called a super-attractor. (C) 2019 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Journal of Mechanics, B/Fluids
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Dynamical systems
  • Internal waves
  • Wave attractors
  • Wave ray


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