Buoyancy (/ˈbɔɪənsi, ˈbjənsi/),[1][2] or upthrust, is an upward force exerted by a fluid that opposes the weight of a partially or fully immersed object. In a column of fluid, pressure increases with depth as a result of the weight of the overlying fluid. Thus the pressure at the bottom of a column of fluid is greater than at the top of the column. Similarly, the pressure at the bottom of an object submerged in a fluid is greater than at the top of the object. The pressure difference results in a net upward force on the object. The magnitude of the force is proportional to the pressure difference, and (as explained by Archimedes' principle) is equivalent to the weight of the fluid that would otherwise occupy the submerged volume of the object, i.e. the displaced fluid.

The forces at work in buoyancy. The object floats at rest because the upward force of buoyancy is equal to the downward force of gravity.

For this reason, an object whose average density is greater than that of the fluid in which it is submerged tends to sink. If the object is less dense than the liquid, the force can keep the object afloat. This can occur only in a non-inertial reference frame, which either has a gravitational field or is accelerating due to a force other than gravity defining a "downward" direction.[3]

Buoyancy also applies to fluid mixtures, and is the most common driving force of convection currents. In these cases, the mathematical modelling is altered to apply to continua, but the principles remain the same. Examples of buoyancy driven flows include the spontaneous separation of air and water or oil and water.

The center of buoyancy of an object is the center of gravity of the displaced volume of fluid.

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