GeoMontreal Conference 2013 – Sarah Bryant
The development of a large-scale flume for landslide runout experiments
S.K. Bryant, W.A. Take
GeoEngineering Centre at Queen’s – RMC
Department of Civil Engineering
Queen’s University
Kingston, ON
The extended distal reach of rapid landslides such as debris flows and rock avalanches presents a
significant hazard. Despite significant recent progress, the mechanics of rapid landslides is still not fully
understood. This is primarily due to difficulties associated with laboratory experiments failing to
accurately represent real landslide events due to scaling limitations; numerical modelling results relying
heavily on input parameters and the chosen flow rheology model; and field investigations of real
landslide sites being completed after the event has occurred, which limits the information that can be
obtained on initial and boundary conditions. Large scale experiments provide a particularly interesting
opportunity to further illumine landslide runout behaviour as crucial measurements at the grain scale
can be made prior to, during, and after a landslide event in a safe and controlled environment. These
measurements include the progression of velocity profiles and shearing motion which can be obtained
through Particle Image Velocimetry (PIV). This method of particle tracking allows valuable data to be
collected on the interior of the flow without disturbing the material. This data can be used to further the
understanding of the mechanics and rheology of rapid granular flows and to verify the outcomes of
numerical modelling. This paper discusses the development of a large-scale flume facility at Queen’s
University for landslide runout experiments. The design of a rapid triggering mechanism of large scale
events is described. The set-up and use of five, sequenced, high speed cameras for obtaining images for
PIV tracking and analysis is included. Preliminary results of large scale landslide simulations of rounded,
granular material flowing down an aluminum sloped section onto a horizontal runout section will be
presented. Potential next steps in the development of the landslide facility and proposed research will
be discussed.