American Society of Civil Engineers

Design Method for Local Scour at Bridge Piers

by B. W. Melville, (Sr. Lect., Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand) and A. J. Sutherland, (Reader in Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, Vol. 114, No. 10, October 1988, pp. 1210-1226, (doi:

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Document type: Journal Paper
Discussion: by Robert Ettema    (See full record)
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Abstract: A design method for the estimation of equilibrium depths of local scour at bridge piers is presented. The method is based upon envelope curves drawn to experimental data derived mostly from laboratory experiments. The laboratory data include wide variations in flow velocity and depth, sediment size and gradation, and pier size, shape, and alignment. Local scour depth estimation is based upon the largest possible scour depth that can occur at a cylindrical pier, which is 2.4D, where D = the pier diameter. According to the method, this depth is reduced using multiplying factors where clear-water scour conditions exist, the flow depth is relatively shallow, and the sediment size is relatively coarse. In the case of nonrectangular piers, additional multiplying factors to account for pier shape and alignment are applied. The method of estimation of local scour depth is summarized in a flow chart.

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