Acta Geotechnica

, Volume 11, Issue 5, pp 1027–1045 | Cite as

Modelling and numerical simulation of two-phase debris flows

  • Xiannan Meng
  • Yongqi WangEmail author
Research Paper


Gravity-driven geophysical mass flows often consist of fluid–sediment mixtures. The contemporary presence of a fluid and a granular phase determines a complicated fluid-like and solid-like behaviour. The present paper adopts the mixture theory to incorporate the two phases and describe their respective movements. For the granular phase, a Mohr–Coulomb plasticity is employed to describe the relationship between normal and shear stresses, while for the fluid phase, the viscous Newtonian fluid is taken into account. At the basal topography, a Coulomb sliding condition for the solid phase and a Navier’s sliding condition for the fluid phase are satisfied, while the top free surface is traction-free for both the phases. For the interactive forces between the phases, the buoyancy force and viscous drag force are included. The established governing equations are expressed in a curvilinear coordinate system embedded in a curvilinear reference basal surface, above which an arbitrary shallow basal topography is permitted. Taking into account the typical length characteristics of such geophysical mass flows, the “thin-layer” approximation is assumed, so that a depth integration can be performed to simplify the governing equations. The resulting strongly nonlinear partial differential equations (PDEs) are first simplified and then analysed for a steady state in a travelling coordinate system. We find the current model can reproduce the characteristic shape of some flow fronts. Additionally, a stability analysis for steady uniform flows is performed to demonstrate the development of roll waves that means instabilities grow up and become clearly distinguishable waves. Furthermore, we numerically solve the resulting PDEs to investigate general unsteady flows down a curved surface by means of a high-resolution non-oscillatory central difference scheme with the total variation diminishing property. The dynamic behaviours of the granular and fluid phases, especially, the effects of the drag force and the fluid bed friction are discussed. These investigations can enhance the understanding of physics behind natural debris flows.


High-resolution scheme Mixture theory Roll waves  Two phases 



The authors thank the People Programme (Marie Curie Actions) of the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme FP7 for the financial support through Grant No. 289911.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Chair of Fluid Dynamics, Department of Mechanical EngineeringTechnische Universität DarmstadtDarmstadtGermany

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