Mean velocity estimation of viscous debris flows

Abstract

The mean velocity estimation of debris flows, especially viscous debris flows, is an important part in the debris flow dynamics research and in the design of control structures. In this study, theoretical equations for computing debris flow velocity with the one-phase flow assumption were reviewed and used to analyze field data of viscous debris flows. Results show that the viscous debris flow is difficult to be classified as a Newtonian laminar flow, a Newtonian turbulent flow, a Bingham fluid, or a dilatant fluid in the strict sense. However, we can establish empirical formulas to compute its mean velocity following equations for Newtonian turbulent flows, because most viscous debris flows are turbulent. Factors that potentially influence debris flow velocity were chosen according to two-phase flow theories. Through correlation analysis and data fitting, two empirical formulas were proposed. In the first one, velocity is expressed as a function of clay content, flow depth and channel slope. In the second one, a coefficient representing the grain size nonuniformity is used instead of clay content. Both formulas can give reasonable estimate of the mean velocity of the viscous debris flow.

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Correspondence to Fangqiang Wei.

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Yang, H., Wei, F. & Hu, K. Mean velocity estimation of viscous debris flows. J. Earth Sci. 25, 771–778 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12583-014-0465-z

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Key Words

  • debris flow
  • velocity
  • one-phase flow
  • two-phase flow
  • viscous