Articles | Volume 10, issue 8
18 Aug 2010
 | 18 Aug 2010

On the application of kinematic models to simulate the diffusive processes of debris flows

M. Arattano and L. Franzi

Abstract. Debris flows generally propagate along steep mountain torrents with dynamics primarily governed by gravitational and frictional forces. Thus, debris flows modelling can be successfully performed through the application of kinematic models, which consider only the effects of slope and friction and neglect the remaining terms of the momentum equation. However, the diffusion processes that can be observed in the field, such as the spreading of the debris flow wave as it flows downstream, can not be theoretically predicted by kinematic models, since diffusion is a second-order process neglected in the kinematic approximation. In this paper, this issue is discussed and an application for both a generalized diffusion wave model and a kinematic model is proposed of a debris flow which occurred in an Italian instrumented torrent to identify, in a real case scenario, the effective value of the neglected terms in the kinematic approximation.