Scour Power

by George W. Annandale, (M.ASCE), Golder Associates, 200 Union Blvd., Suite 500, Lakewood, CO 80228,
Steven P. Smith, Hydraulics Engineer; Colorado Department of Traffic, Denver, CO,
Robert Nairns, Partner; Baird and Associates, Oakville, Ontario, Canada,
J. Sterling Jones, Hydraulic Research Engineer; Federal Highway Administration, McLean, VA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1996, Vol. 66, Issue 7, Pg. 58-60

Document Type: Feature article


New prediction methods consistently calculate scour around bridge piers allowing engineers to better tailor pier design in rock and consolidated material. The leading cause of bridge failure is undermining of bridge foundations. Most equations to estimate scour at bridge crossings were developed from laboratory studies that used sand as the erodible medium. These provide reasonable results in sand bed channels but overestimate scour depths in rock and cohesive materials, leading to overly conservative foundation designs and excessive costs. A consistent and rational approach to estimating bridge scour in rock material must account for both the erosive power of water and the material's ability to resist erosion.

Subject Headings: Scour | Bridge foundations | Rocks | Foundation design | Erosion | Construction materials | Sandy soils

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