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Landslides

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 315–332 | Cite as

Depositional mechanisms and morphology of debris flow: physical modelling

  • Gordon G. D. Zhou
  • Shuai LiEmail author
  • Dongri Song
  • Clarence E. Choi
  • Xiaoqing Chen
Original Paper

Abstract

A comprehensive understanding of the deposition mechanisms and morphology of debris flows is necessary to delineate the extent of a debris flow hazard. However, due to the wide range of debris flow compositions and the complex topography in the field, there remains a deficiency of fundamental understanding on how the effects of grain-size distribution, water content, and channel slope influence the deposition mechanisms and morphology of debris flow. In this study, a series of experimental tests were carried out using a flume with a horizontal outflow plane to discern the effects of particle size, water content, and slope on the deposition morphology and grain size segregation on the deposition fan. Results reveal that the experimental debris flows are under either viscous or collisional flow regimes. Most experimental debris flow fronts lack high pore fluid pressures, emphasizing the formation of deposits via grain-grain and grain-bed friction and collisions; also high excess pore fluid pressure (positive) behind the front head is measured and it is beneficial for the mobility of debris flows. Both the deposit area and runout-width ratio are positively correlated to the Bagnold and Savage numbers and the initial water contents. Furthermore, an increase of fines content reduces the runout distance. However, this feature is not as obvious for high water content flows (w = 28.5% in this study). Moreover, smoother transition topography between the transportation and deposition zone leads to longer runout distances. For debris flows with a high solid fraction (Cs > 0.52 in this study), particle sorting is quite inhibited in the deposit fan.

Keywords

Debris flow Flume model tests Deposit morphology Flow regimes Grain size segregation 

Abbreviations

Cs

Volumetric solid fraction

d50

Mean particle size

Fr

Froude number

h

Approaching flow depth

g

Gravitational acceleration

NBag

Bagnold number

NSav

Savage number

NFric

Friction number

pbed

Pore pressure

σbed

Normal stress

v

Debris flow velocity

w

Water content

ρf

Density of the fluid

ρs

Density of the solids

μ

Interstitial fluid viscosity

μw

Dynamic viscosity of pure water

υfines

Volume fraction of the interstitial fluid occupied by fines

ϕ

Friction angle between grains

γ˙

Shear rate

θ

Channel inclination

δ

Characteristic size of the sediments

Δu

Excessive pore fluid pressure

Notes

Funding

The authors acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 11672318, 41731283), the Youth Innovation Promotion Association, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), the CAS “Light of West China” Program (Grant No. Y6R2220220), the CAS Pioneer Hundred Talents Program, and the Research Grants Council of the Government of Hong Kong SAR, China (Grant T22-603/15-N).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon G. D. Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shuai Li
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Dongri Song
    • 1
    • 2
  • Clarence E. Choi
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  • Xiaoqing Chen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Mountain Hazards and Earth Surface Process/Institute of Mountain Hazards and EnvironmentChinese Academy of Sciences (CAS)ChengduChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Department of Civil and Environmental EngineeringThe Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, HKSARHong KongChina
  4. 4.The HKUST Jockey Club Institute for Advanced Study, HKSARHong KongChina
  5. 5.HKUST Fok Ying Tung Graduate SchoolGuangzhouChina

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