Date of Award

Fall 2023

Project Type


Program or Major

Ocean Engineering

Degree Name

Master of Science

First Advisor

Tracy L Mandel

Second Advisor

Nathan Laxague

Third Advisor

Gabriel Venegas


The free surface at an air-water interface can provide information regarding bathymetriccomplexities, as well as the subsurface flow. This work covers an exploration of optical techniques that allow for non-intrusive measurements over a wide domain of the free surface. We present a comparison of the performance of two recent advances in light-based optical techniques for free surface measurements, Total Internal Reflection-Deflectometry and Moon- Glade Background Oriented Schlieren, with the more established method of Free-Surface Synthetic Schlieren. We make use of an optical flow algorithm over the more traditional Digital Image Correlation, in order to obtain higher spatial resolution data across the imaged free surface domain. The Optical flow algorithm presents additional benefits, such as computational efficiency and robustness in capturing large displacements and in tracking strongly strained features. The three optical techniques are assembled in synchronization to image two free surface conditions: (1) a free surface being impinged upon by an underlying turbulent, free-shear flow and (2) a random and irregular wave field induced by a free jet. Using the high-resolution measurements, we provide insight on the emergence of multiple free surface dynamics for a turbulent free surface. We present a comprehensive discussion on the benefits and drawbacks of each technique, including suggestions on the suitability of each technique for several experimental constraints.