Numerical analysis of the grain size distribution in the activation of dry debris flow by means of DEM

Gerardo Arévalo Mendoza, Alfonso M. Ramos Cañón, Luis Felipe Prada Sarmiento


Debris flow is a process of granular nature that has been widely analysed with methodologies based upon continuum mechanics. However, those approaches do not take into account the real granular condition of the soil. Grain size distribution exerts an important control on the movement of debris flows. This behaviour can be studied by analyzing three variables: maximum tilt angle (θ), kinetic energy (Ek) and flow depth (Fd). These variables allow to obtain a deeper insight into the conditions that trigger the failure of slopes and its subsequent capacity of damage. This research resorts to the use of the discrete element technique, developed by [1], performing a parametrical study of the parameters controlling grain size distributions like: mean size (d50), coefficient of curvature (Cu) and maximum size (dmax). The results showed an important influence and also a strong interaction between Ek and Fd on the onset of granular flows. The angle θ reached on the surface has a variation less than 5º with extreme values of d50. Results reported herein, allow to recognize the influence of grain size distribution on the triggering of slides of granular materials.


Debris flow; grain size distribution; discrete element method; rotating drum; depth flow.

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