Experimental analysis of open check dams and protection bars against debris flows and driftwood

  • Giulia RossiEmail author
  • Aronne Armanini
Original Article


The paper addresses the influence of intense sediment transport (bed load and debris flow) on the efficiency of the structures aimed at the interception of wood logs. In the literature different devices designed to intercept woods are proposed: steel barriers, net barriers, check dam with steel bars positioned in the opening. In this paper we firstly define some fundamental dimensionless parameter governing the phenomenon, in order to determine a rational criterion to evaluate the efficiency of the different kind of devices. In particular, we deepen the interaction between slit check dams and driftwood, in both bed load and debris flow conditions. Starting from the results of this first analysis, we propose some arrangements of steel bars be installed in the check dam. Through a laboratory experimental investigation, by now conduced in simplified conditions (i.e. spherical mono-dispersed sediments), we define some criteria to obtain the best design parameters for the bars, that is their optimal disposition and spacing, in function of the logs characteristics (mainly the lengths). We investigate also the influence of different lengths of the transported woods, finding a general criterion to evaluate an overall length representing the logs ensemble.


Driftwood Open check dam Hyper-concentrated flows Ramps devices 

List of symbols


Channel width (L)


Width of the slit check dam opening (L)


Spacing among the bars (L)


Solid concentration (–)


Froude number (–)


Wood cylinders length (L)


Weighted average length in presence of woods of different lengths (L)


Number of woods (–)


Number of ramps (–)


Length ratio (–)


Ramps thickness (L)


Dimensionless time (–)


Clogging time (T)


Clogging time for the sediments upstream of the check dam (T)


Clogging time for the woods (T)


Trapping efficiency (–)

\(\alpha \)

Channel slope (\(^{\circ }\))

\(\alpha _s\)

Inclination of the ramps with respect to the vertical (\(^{\circ }\))

\(\lambda _r\)

Ratio between the spacing of the ramps and the length of the wood cylinders (–)

\(\varLambda _C\)

Covering factor (–)

\(\phi \)

Friction angle of sediments (\(^{\circ }\))

\(\varPhi _{w,DR}\)

Number of woods passing because of the delayed release (\({\hbox {T}}^{-1}\))

\(\varPhi _{w,i}\)

Incoming number of woods in the unit time from upstream (\({\hbox {T}}^{-1}\))

\(\varPhi _{w,p}\)

Number of woods passing through the check dam in the unit time (\({\hbox {T}}^{-1}\))

\(\varPhi _{w,t}\)

Trapped quantity of driftwood in the unit time (\({\hbox {T}}^{-1}\))

\(\rho _s\)

Density of the sediments (\({\hbox {M L}}^{-3}\))



This work was partially carried out in the frame of the collaborative international consortium, STEEP STREAMS, under the ERA-NET Cofund WaterWorks 2014 Call. The ERA-NET is an integral part of the 2015 Joint Activities developed by the Water Challenges for a Changing World Joint Programme Initiative (Water JPI). The authors are grateful to Debora Gasperi, who made a great contribution to the work during the course of her Master thesis. The authors would thank the Technicians of the Hydraulic Laboratory of the University of Trento, Andrea Bampi, Lorenzo Forti, Fabio Sartori and Paolo Scarfiello, for their valuable support during the experimental work.

Supplementary material

10652_2019_9714_MOESM1_ESM.docx (28 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (docx 28 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DICAMUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly

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