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Prediction of the runout distance of a debris flow is an important element in the delineation of potentially hazardous areas on alluvial fans and for the siting of mitigation structures. Existing runout estimation methods rely on input parameters that are often difficult to estimate, including volume, velocity, and frictional factors. In order to provide a simple method for preliminary estimates of debris-flow runout distances, we developed a model that provides runout predictions based on the average channel slope (ACS model) for non-volcanic debris flows that emanate from confined channels and deposit on well-defined alluvial fans. This model was developed from 20 debris-flow events in the western United States and British Columbia. Based on a runout estimation method developed for snow avalanches, this model predicts debris-flow runout as an angle of reach from a fixed point in the drainage channel to the end of the runout zone. The best fixed point was found to be the mid-point elevation of the drainage channel, measured from the apex of the alluvial fan to the top of the drainage basin. Predicted runout lengths were more consistent than those obtained from existing angle-of-reach estimation methods. Results of the model compared well with those of laboratory flume tests performed using the same range of channel slopes. The robustness of this model was tested by applying it to three debris-flow events not used in its development: predicted runout ranged from 82 to 131% of the actual runout for these three events. Prediction interval multipliers were also developed so that the user may calculate predicted runout within specified confidence limits.
Engineering Geology 98 (2008) 29–40
Colorado School of Mines, USA
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