Friction in Debris Flows: Inferences from Large-scale Flume Experiments

by Richard M. Iverson, U.S. Geological Survey, Vancouver, United States,
Richard G. LaHusen, U.S. Geological Survey, Vancouver, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Hydraulic Engineering


A recently constructed flume, 95 m long and 2 m wide, permits systematic experimentation with unsteady, nonuniform flows of poorly sorted geological debris. Preliminary experiments with water-saturated mixtures of sand and gravel show that they flow in a manner consistent with Coulomb frictional behavior. The Coulomb flow model of Savage and Hutter (1989, 1991), modified to include quasi-static pore-pressure effects, predicts flow-front velocities and flow depths reasonably well. Moreover, simple scaling analyses show that grain friction, rather than liquid viscosity or grain collisions, probably dominates shear resistance and momentum transport in the experimental flows. The same scaling indicates that grain friction is also important in many natural debris flows.

Subject Headings: Grain (material) | Friction | Debris | Solids flow | Flumes | Fluid flow | Fouling | Shear resistance

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