Experimental evidences and numerical modelling of debris flow initiated by channel runoff
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Debris flow initiation by channel bed mobilization is a common process in high mountainous areas. Initiation is more likely to occur at the outlet of small, steeply sloping basins where concentrated overland flow feeds an ephemeral channel incised in slope deposits. Such geological conditions are typical of the Dolomite region (Italian Alps), which is characterized by widespread debris flow activity triggered by severe summer thunderstorms. Real-time data and field observations for one of these catchments (Acquabona catchment, Belluno, Italian Alps) were used to characterize the hydrological response of the initiation area to rainfalls of varying intensity and duration. The observed behaviour was then reproduced by means of a simple hydrological model, based on the kinematic wave assumption, to simulate the generation of channel runoff. The model is capable of predicting the observed hydrological response for a wide range of rainfall impulses, thus providing a physical basis for the understanding of the debris flow triggering threshold.