Marangoni convection in a cavity with differentially heated sidewalls has been investigated. The analysis includes the complete effects of interface deformation. The results determined for large Biot and zero Marangoni (zero Prandtl) numbers show that steady convection may exist for Reynolds numbers
Relarger than, and for capillary numbers Caand cavity lengths Lsmaller than, certain critical values. The main factor limiting the existence of steady convection involves the interface becoming tangential to the hot wall at the contact point (tangency condition). Unsteady analysis shows that the tangency condition defines the limit point for the system; its violation is most likely to lead to the formation of a dry spot at the hot wall. The critical values of Re, Ca, and Lare mutually dependent and change with the heating rate (they reach a minimum for instantaneous heating). For a certain range of parameters, multiple (i.e. steady and oscillatory) states are possible. The oscillatory state has a form consisting of the steady mode with a simple harmonic sloshing motion superposed on it. A reduction in the heating rate permits heating of the liquid without triggering the oscillatory state. Transition between the steady and the oscillatory states involves a nonlinear instability process.