Mudflow Rheology in a Vertically Rotating Flume

by Robert R. Holmes, Jr., U.S. Geological Survey, Rolla, United States,
Jerome A. Westphal, U.S. Geological Survey, Rolla, United States,
Harvey E. Jobson, U.S. Geological Survey, Rolla, United States,

Abstract: Joint research by the U.S. Geological Survey and the University of Missouri-Rolla currently (1990) is being conducted on a 3.05 meters in diameter vertically rotating flume used to simulate mudflows under steady-state conditions. Observed mudflow simulations indicate flow patterns in the flume are similar to those occurring in natural mudflows. Variables such as mean and surface velocity, depth, and average boundary shear stress can be measured in this flume more easily than in the field or in a traditional tilting flume. Sensitive variables such as sediment concentration, grain-size distribution, and Atterberg limits also can be precisely and easily controlled. A known Newtonian fluid, SAE 30 motor oil, was tested in the flume and the computed value for viscosity was within 12.5 percent of the stated viscosity. This provided support that the data from the flume can be used to determine the rheological properties of fluids such as mud. Measurements on mud slurries indicate that flows with sediment concentrations ranging from 81 to 87 percent sediment by weight can be approximated as Bingham plastic for strain rates greater than 1 per second. In this approximation, the yield stress and Bingham viscosity were extremely sensitive to sediment concentration. Generally, the magnitude of the yield stress was large relative to the change in shear stress with increasing mudflow velocity.

Subject Headings: Shear stress | Flumes | Landslides | Boundary shear | Sediment | Yield stress | Viscosity | Flow patterns

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