Rayleigh–Taylor (RT) and Richtmyer–Meshkov(RM) instabilities are well-known pathways towards turbulent mixing layers, in many cases characterized by significant mass and species exchange across the mixing layers (Zhou, 2017. Physics Reports, 720–722, 1–136). Mathematically, the pathway to turbulent mixing requires that the initial interface be multimodal, to permit cross-mode coupling leading to turbulence. Practically speaking, it is difficult to experimentally produce a non-multi-mode initial interface.
Numerous methods and approaches have been developed to describe the late, multimodal, turbulent stages of RT and RM mixing layers. This paper first presents the initial condition dependence of RT mixing layers, and introduces parameters that are used to evaluate the level of “mixedness” and “mixed mass” within the layers, as well as the dependence on density differences, as well as the characteristic anisotropy of this acceleration-driven flow, emphasizing some of the key differences between the two-dimensional and three-RT mixing layers. Next, the RM mixing layers are discussed, and differences with the RT mixing layer are elucidated, including the RM mixing layers dependence on the Mach number of the initiating shock. Another key feature of the RM induced flows is its response to a reshock event, as frequently seen in shock-tube experiments as well as inertial confinement events. A number of approaches to modeling the evolution of these mixing layers are then described, in order of increasing complexity.These include simple buoyancy–drag models, Reynolds-averaged Navier–Stokes models of increased complexity, including –, K–L, and –– models, up to full Reynolds-stress models with more than one length-scale. Multifield models and multiphase models have also been implemented. Additional complexities to these flows are examined as well as modifications to the models to understand the effects of these complexities. These complexities include the presence of magnetic fields, compressibility, rotation, stratification and additional instabilities. The complications induced by the presence of converging geometries are also considered. Finally, the unique problems of astrophysical and high-energy-density applications, and efforts to model these are discussed.