Articles | Volume 8, issue 4
29 Aug 2008
 | 29 Aug 2008

Assessing potential debris flow runout: a comparison of two simulation models

M. Pirulli and G. Sorbino

Abstract. In the present paper some of the problems related to the application of the continuum mechanics modelling to debris flow runout simulation are discussed.
Particularly, a procedure is proposed to face the uncertainties in the choice of a numerical code and in the setting of rheological parameter values that arise when the prediction of a debris flow propagation is required.
In this frame, the two codes RASH3D and FLO2D are used to numerically analyse the propagation of potential debris flows affecting two study sites in Southern Italy.
For these two study sites, a lack in information prevents that the rheological parameters can be obtained from the back analysis of similar well documented debris flow events in the area. As a prediction of the possible runout area is however required by decision makers, an alternative approach based on the analysis of the alluvial fans existing at the toe of the two studied basins is proposed to calibrate rheological parameters on the safe side.
From the comparison of the results obtained with RASH3D (where a Voellmy and a Quadratic rheologies are implemented) and FLO2D (where a Quadratic rheology is implemented) it emerges that, for the two examined cases, numerical analyses carried out with RASH3D assuming a Voellmy rheology can be considered on the safe side respect to those carried out with a Quadratic rheology.