Articles | Volume 9, issue 6
17 Nov 2009
 | 17 Nov 2009

A GIS-based numerical model for simulating the kinematics of mud and debris flows over complex terrain

S. Beguería, Th. W. J. Van Asch, J.-P. Malet, and S. Gröndahl

Abstract. This article presents MassMov2D, a two-dimensional model of mud and debris flow dynamics over complex topography, based on a numerical integration of the depth-averaged motion equations using a shallow water approximation. The core part of the model was implemented using the GIS scripting language PCRaster. This environment provides visualization of the results through map animations and time series, and a user-friendly interface. The constitutive equations and the numerical solution adopted in MassMov2D are presented in this article. The model was applied to two field case studies of mud flows on torrential alluvial fans, one in the Austrian Tyrol (Wartschenbach torrent) and the other in the French Alps (Faucon torrent). Existing data on the debris flow volume, input discharge and deposits were used to back-analyze those events and estimate the values of the leading parameters. The results were compared with modeling codes used by other authors for the same case studies. The results obtained with MassMov2D matched well with the observed debris flow deposits, and are in agreement with those obtained using alternative codes.