The Viscous Surface-Internal Wave Problem: Global Well-Posedness and Decay
We consider the free boundary problem for two layers of immiscible, viscous, incompressible fluid in a uniform gravitational field, lying above a general rigid bottom in a three-dimensional horizontally periodic setting. We establish the global well-posedness of the problem both with and without surface tension. We prove that without surface tension the solution decays to the equilibrium state at an almost exponential rate; with surface tension, we show that the solution decays at an exponential rate. Our results include the case in which a heavier fluid lies above a lighter one, provided that the surface tension at the free internal interface is above a critical value, which we identify. This means that sufficiently large surface tension stabilizes the Rayleigh–Taylor instability in the nonlinear setting. As a part of our analysis, we establish elliptic estimates for the two-phase stationary Stokes problem.