Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Oceanography



First Advisor

Frank White


The equilibrium model of Stern (1969) was extended to include gradients of both the diffusing components, T and S. This model yields explicit expressions for the width of one salt finger, and the S and T fluxes through the salt finger layer, However, the model appears to be restricted to those substances for which KS = σ(KT). The model is also limited to these regions where ΒΔS/αΔT KS/KT. ΒΔS and αΔT are the density differences across the salt finger interface due to the Sand T substances respectively. KS and KT are the diffusivities of S and T respectively.

A set of experiments was conducted with the purpose of investigating the growth of the salt finger layer. Evidence was found to support the hypothesis that there exists a salt finger layer equilibrium thickness, the, which is independent of the reservoir depth. In addition, the slope of the layer growth curve was found to be dependent upon the initial ratio of the concentration differences across the salt finger layer. Some qualitative experiments demonstrated that fluid is flowing through the finger layer from one mixed layer to the other.

Finally, a more detailed theoretical model was studied which included vertical and horizontal boundary conditions as well as arbitrary S and T gradients. This model yields expressions for the width of one salt finger, the thickness of the salt finger layer, the fluid velocity within the finger layer and the S and T fluxes through the layer. However, computed values were an order of magnitude smaller than observed values. Hence the model needs further refinement.



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