Numerical investigation of mode failures in submerged granular columns

E. P. Montellà*, J. Chauchat, C. Bonamy, D. Weij, G. H. Keetels, T. J. Hsu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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In submerged sandy slopes, soil is frequently eroded as a combination of two main mechanisms: breaching, which refers to the retrogressive failure of a steep slope forming a turbidity current, and instantaneous sliding wedges, known as shear failure, that also contribute to shape the morphology of the soil deposit. Although there are several modes of failures, in this paper we investigate breaching and shear failures of granular columns using the two-fluid approach. The numerical model is first applied to simulate small-scale granular column collapses (Rondon et al., Phys. Fluids, vol. 23, 2011, 073301) with different initial volume fractions to study the role of the initial conditions in the main flow dynamics. For loosely packed granular columns, the porous medium initially contracts and the resulting positive pore pressure leads to a rapid collapse. Whereas in initially dense-packing columns, the porous medium dilates and negative pore pressure is generated stabilizing the granular column, which results in a slow collapse. The proposed numerical approach shows good agreement with the experimental data in terms of morphology and excess of pore pressure. Numerical results are extended to a large-scale application (Weij, doctoral dissertation, 2020, Delft University of Technology; Alhaddad et al., J. Mar. Sci. Eng., vol. 11, 2023, 560) known as the breaching process. This phenomenon may occur naturally at coasts or on dykes and levees in rivers but it can also be triggered by humans during dredging operations. The results indicate that the two-phase flow model correctly predicts the dilative behaviour and the subsequent turbidity currents associated with the breaching process.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberE28
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Breaching
  • Dilatancy
  • Granular flow


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