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Debris flow

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The largest debris flows in the Alps have swept away up to half a million cubic metres of material, transported it down the valley and deposited it there. Such a vast quantity would require over 40,000 trucks to remove it. Quantities that would fit into around 1,000 trucks are not uncommon.

Our software RAMMS::DEBRISFLOW makes it possible to calculate these debris flow processes and evaluate the effect of protective measures. The simulation calculates the potential flow and breakout paths of a debris flow depending on rainfall and terrain, including the slope gradient.

Moreover, as debris flows surge towards the valley, they grow to many times the size of the mass that was originally unleashed. This affects the speed and runout distance, the ability of the flow to break out of the channel and ultimately the force that is exerted on infrastructure in the runout zone, such as protective structures, bridges or buildings. RAMMS is able to simulate the erosion behaviour of a debris flow.

New findings from research, field measurements, experiments and laboratory tests continuously contribute to improving the module.

 

Topics

WSL research of debris flows

To minimise the dangers of debris flows and improve forecasting, we research processes in the field, in the laboratory and via computer simulation.

Debris Flow Observation Station

The  WSL observes naturally-occurring debris flows at the Illgraben, a catchment located near the village of Susten (Leuk), in Canton Valais.

Debris flow laboratory

The debris flow laboratory at the WSL offers the possibility to investigate debris flows at a small scale.

 

Research group

RAMMS Rapid Mass Movements

We develop RAMMS, a software package that allows to evaluate natural hazard processes and to facilitate an assessment of the influences of protective...

 

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