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Journal Articles Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment Year : 2021

Discrete modelling of debris flows for evaluating impacts on structures

Rime Chehade
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Bastien Chevalier
Pierre Breul
Jean-Claude Thouret


Lahars (volcanic debris flows) are natural phenomena that can generate severe damage and wreak havoc in densely populated urban areas. The evaluation of the forces and pressures generated by these mass flows on constructions (e.g., buildings, bridges and other infrastructure) is crucial for civil protection, assessment of physical vulnerability and risk management. The current tools developed to model the spread of flows at large scale in densely populated urban areas remain inaccurate in the evaluation of mechanical efforts. Here, we developed a discrete numerical model for evaluating debris-flow (DF) impact forces at the local scale of one structure (pillar or column) like a building, a bridge and other infrastructure. In this model, the large-sized solid particles that damage infrastructures and edifices are explicitly modelled using Distinct Element Method (DEM). We considered the fluid and fine-grained solid particles not only in the frame of the pressure exerted on structures, but also through their effects on the movement of particles, i.e. buoyancy and drag. The fluid velocity field and the fluid free surface obtained from Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) calculation based on Navier–Stokes equations are imported in the DEM simulation. This model is able to reproduce a range of magnitudes of DFs in terms of volumes, velocities and flow heights. Finally, the model provides insights on impact forces generated by particles on structures and on hydrostatic and/or dynamic pressure due to the combined effect of fluid and solid phases. The model provides results consistent with existing empirical models.
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hal-03464203 , version 1 (03-12-2021)




Rime Chehade, Bastien Chevalier, Fabian Dedecker, Pierre Breul, Jean-Claude Thouret. Discrete modelling of debris flows for evaluating impacts on structures. Bulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment, 2021, 80 (8), pp.6629. ⟨10.1007/s10064-021-02278-3⟩. ⟨hal-03464203⟩
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