Three dimensional boundary layer disturbance growth in natural convection adjacent to a uniformly heated vertical plate has been studied using a finite volume direct numerical simulation (DNS). The sequence of events associated with the intermediate stage of the spatial laminar-turbulent-transition for water, with Prandtl number Pr = 6.7, for the Rayleigh numbers in the range Rax ≈ 1 × 1010 – 4 × 1013, with perturbation parameters closely matching the experiment reported in [1], is investigated. Preliminary calculations confirm that this stage is characterized by the development of spatially periodic inner and outer span-wise vortices (shear layers), which travel in a differing fashion and speed; and a secondary mean flow system. The important route to natural convection flow breakdown, the arising of a double vortex mean longitudinal system, repeatedly suggested by past experiments, seems to be related to the complex and opposing behavior of these two layers.

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