On the relationships between local vortex identification schemes

Pinaki Chakraborty, S. Balachandar, Ronald J. Adrian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

745 Scopus citations


We analyse the currently popular vortex identification criteria that are based on pointwise analysis of the velocity gradient tensor. A new measure of spiralling compactness of material orbits in vortices is introduced and using this measure a new local vortex identification criterion and requirements for a vortex core are proposed. The interrelationships between the different criteria are explored analytically and in a few flow examples, using both zero and non-zero thresholds for the identification parameter. These inter-relationships provide a new interpretation of the various criteria in terms of the local flow kinematics. A canonical turbulent flow example is studied, and it is observed that all the criteria, given the proposed usage of threshold, result in remarkably similar looking vortical structures. A unified interpretation based on local flow kinematics is offered for when similarity or differences can be expected in the vortical structures educed using the different criteria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)189-214
Number of pages26
Journaljournal of fluid mechanics
StatePublished - Jul 25 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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