The concept of turbulence and complex systems in solids: Chaos, attractors and fractals

Category Sedimentology
Group GSI.IR
Location International Geological Congress,oslo 2008
Author Sim, Bradley; Agterberg, Frits; Russell, Hazen; Sharpe, David
Holding Date 03 September 2008

Turbulence at the highest level can be described as inhomogeneous behaviour within a medium. This in turn gives rise to complex systems which can be characterized using the related concepts of chaos, strange attractors and multifractals. Although these traditionally separate areas of research yield different information about complex system behaviour, it is impossible to properly understand any one concept without some knowledge of the others. System dynamics cannot be explained properly using a cause and effect mentality.Instead, one simultaneously converges to an overall understanding of turbulent phenomena and system dynamics via a feedback approach. System evolution is charted in phase space with fractal dimension used to quantify levels of complexity. However there are scale constraints on interpretation of changes in such levels. The concept of complex systems (component interactions) and inhomogeneous change, in conjunction with the development of turbulence; rather than just the strict presence or absence of system components has direct application to a wide variety of geoscientific phenomena. These include but are certainly not limited to, the development of geomorphic landforms, glacier discharge and movement, the formation and emplacement of kimberlites, crystal fractionation, age dating, dendrites, the spatial arrangement of ore deposits (metal distribution) and sedimentary structures. This non-linear, complex system paradigm describes data accurately but also honours basic paragenetic mechanisms, making it the approach of choice decoding the rock record and behaviour of Earth systems in general.