Debris Flow Experiments (Spring 2017)

This spring I taught an undergraduate Geomorphology class at Duke. For the last few weeks of class, I broke out my debris flow flume. I have written about this debris flow previously, and is described here on the Sediment Experimentalist Network site. Also posted is a slo-mo video of a typical debris flow.

Students planned and executed an experiment of their choosing — an example of a  ‘Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience’ (CURE). Though there has been some work done with ‘scaled down’ debris flows (e.g., de Haas et al. 2015) there seemed to be lots of room for the students to do something new.

Both groups ended up investigating various mitigation measures for slowing or stopping debris flows. This involved 3D printed several pieces as mitigation structures, from solid walls of various sizes and angles:


…to plates with various densities of upright rods/sticks to function as tree/vegetation mimics:


Each group ended up writing up their work as a paper (data and plots included), and I’m happy to share them here:

  • Paper 1 focused on solid walls
  • Paper 2 focused on the ‘green infrastructure’ mimics.
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