On asymmetric gravity-capillary solitary waves

T. S. Yang, T. R. Akylas

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71 Citations (Scopus)


Symmetric gravity-capillary solitary waves with decaying oscillatory tails are known to bifurcate from infinitesimal periodic waves at the minimum value of the phase speed where the group velocity is equal to the phase speed. In the small-amplitude limit, these solitary waves may be interpreted as envelope solitons with stationary crests and are described by the nonlinear Schrödinger (NLS) equation to leading order. In line with this interpretation, it would appear that one may also construct asymmetric solitary waves by shifting the carrier oscillations relative to the envelope of a symmetric solitary wave. This possibility is examined here on the basis of the fifth-order Korteweg-de Vries (KdV) equation, a model for gravity-capillary waves on water of finite depth when the Bond number is close to 1/3. Using techniques of exponential asymptotics beyond all orders of the NLS theory, it is shown that asymmetric solitary waves of the form suggested by the NLS theory in fact are not possible. On the other hand, an infinity of symmetric and asymmetric solitary-wave solution families comprising two or more NLS solitary wavepackets bifurcate at finite values of the amplitude parameter. The asymptotic results are consistent with numerical solutions of the fifth-order KdV equation. Moreover, the asymptotic theory suggests that such multi-packet gravity-capillary solitary waves also exist in the full water-wave problem near the minimum of the phase speed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)215-232
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Fluid Mechanics
Publication statusPublished - 1997 Jan 10

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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


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