Natural Hazards

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 47–77 | Cite as

Empirical Relationships for Debris Flows

  • Dieter Rickenmann


The assessment of the debris flow hazard potential has to rely on semi-quantitative methods. Due to the complexity of the debris-flow process, numerical simulation models of debris flows are still limited with regard to practical applications. Thus, an overview is given of empirical relationships that can be used to estimate the most important parameters of debris-flow behavior. In a possible procedure, an assessment of a maximum debris-flow volume may be followed by estimates of the peak discharge, the mean flow velocity, the total travel distance, and the runout distance on the fan. The applicability of several empirical equations is compared with available field and laboratory data, and scaling considerations are used to discuss the variability of the parameters over a large range of values. Some recommendations are made with regard to the application of the presented relationships by practicing engineers, apart from advocating field reconnaissance and searching for historic events wherever possible.

Debris-flow volume peak discharge flow velocity travel distance runout distance hazard assessment torrent debris flow 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dieter Rickenmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Swiss Federal Institute for ForestSnow and Landscape ResearchBirmensdorfSwitzerland

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