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Journal Articles Geosciences Year : 2022

Effect of Boulder Size on Debris Flow Impact Pressure Using a CFD-DEM Numerical Model

Rime Chehade
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Bastien Chevalier
Fabian Dedecker
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Pierre Breul
Jean-Claude Thouret


Debris flows (DFs) are dangerous events that can cause the complete destruction of buildings and infrastructure, such as bridges; DFs therefore represent a high risk to public safety in exposed areas. The impact pressures due to these flows are essentially determined by the flow height, velocity and density, but other parameters that are less often considered are also involved. We developed a numerical model to evaluate the impact pressure of mass flows, focusing on a better description of the influence of the blocks transported in these flows: the block size strongly influences the impact pressure, which has a strong effect on structural damage. The numerical model proposed considers a staggered, loosely one-way granular–fluid coupling based on a distinct-element-method code, using the separate simulation results of a computing fluid dynamics code used to model the fluid phase. This model estimates the impact pressure distribution due to blocks at the local scale of the obstacle; the pressure due to the fluid phase can be added afterwards. The pressure applied by the DF increased with the maximum block size for a given set of DF characteristics: velocity, height and apparent density. The vulnerability of a given structure depends on the intensity of DFs: the pressure applied on the structure is one of considerable intensity. The existing vulnerability functions are interpreted in the light of the results obtained with the numerical model. This interpretation highlights the need to integrate new parameters in the intensity to better evaluate structures’ vulnerability to debris flows.
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hal-03652333 , version 1 (26-04-2022)




Rime Chehade, Bastien Chevalier, Fabian Dedecker, Pierre Breul, Jean-Claude Thouret. Effect of Boulder Size on Debris Flow Impact Pressure Using a CFD-DEM Numerical Model. Geosciences, 2022, 12 (5), ⟨10.3390/geosciences12050188⟩. ⟨hal-03652333⟩
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