American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Pore Water Pressure Contribution to Debris Flow Mobility

Chiara Deangeli

DOI : 10.3844/ajessp.2009.487.493

American Journal of Environmental Sciences

Volume 5, Issue 4

Pages 487-493


Problem statement: Debris flows are very to extremely rapid flows of saturated granular soils. Two main types of debris flow are generally recognized: Open slope debris flows and channelized debris flows. The former is the results of some form of slope failures, the latter can develop along preexisting stream courses by the mobilization of previously deposited debris blanket. The problem to be addressed is the influence of the mode of initiation on the subsequent mechanism of propagation. In particular the role of pore water pressure on debris flow mobility in both types was debated. Approach: Laboratory flume experiments were set up in order to analyze the behavior of debris flows generated by model sand slope failures. Failures were induced in sand slopes by raising the water level by seepage from a drain located at the top end of the flume, and by rainfall supplied by a set of pierced plastic pipes placed above the flume. Video recordings of the tests were performed to analyze debris flow characteristics. Results: In all the tests the sand water mixture flows were unsteady and non uniform and sand deposition along the channel bed was a relevant phenomenon. The flows were characterized by a behavioral stratification of the sand water mixture along the flow depth. Back analyzed pore water pressure were just in excess to the hydrostatic condition. The reliability of the experimental results was checked by comparison with other flume experiment data. Conclusion: Debris flow behavior was influenced by the mode of initiation, the inclination of the channel and grain size of the soils. These factors affected the attained velocities and the pore water pressure values. The mobility of debris flows was not always enhanced by high excess pore water pressure values.


© 2009 Chiara Deangeli. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.