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Real-time monitoring of debris-flow velocity and mass deformation from field experiments with high sample rate lidar and video

June 15, 2019

Debris flows evolve in both time and space in complex ways, commonly starting as coherent failures but then quickly developing structures such as roll waves and surges. This process is readily observed, but difficult to study or quantify because of the speed at which it occurs. Many methods for studying debris flows consist of point measurements (e.g., of flow height or basal stresses), which are inherently limited in spatial coverage and fail to fully capture the spatiotemporal evolution of a flow. In this study, we use a terrestrial lidar to measure debris-flow profiles at high sample rates to examine debris-flow movement with high temporal and spatial precision and accuracy. We acquired measurements during gate-release experiments at the USGS debris flume, a unique experimental facility where debris flows can be simulated at a large scale. In this study, the laser scanner was placed at the bottom of the steep flume and recorded topography of the entire flume bed and debris flow at a rate of 60 Hz along a very narrow profile (~1mm in width), providing a detailed, two-dimensional cross-section of the debris flow through time. The high-resolution profiles enable us to quantify flow front and surge velocities of the debris flow and provide an unprecedented record of the development and evolution of the flow structure over time. The profiles also preserve a record of the highly variable deposition pattern of the debris flow on a downstream fan with a time resolution of hundredths of a second. In addition, video imagery from the experiment was used to track debris flow movement through time. By acquiring high-resolution topographic data and video imagery during a controlled experiment, we have been able to obtain unusually complete quantitative measurements of debris-flow movement. Such measurements may help constrain future modeling efforts.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title Real-time monitoring of debris-flow velocity and mass deformation from field experiments with high sample rate lidar and video
DOI 10.25676/11124/173219
Authors Francis K. Rengers, Thomas Rapstine, Kate E. Allstadt, Michael Olsen, Michael Bunn, Richard M. Iverson, Jason W. Kean, Ben Leshchinsky, Matthew Logan, Mahyar Sharifi-Mood, Maciej Obryk, Joel B. Smith
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70203316
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Hazards Program