Influence of rheology on debris-flow simulation
Systems of partial differential equations that include the momentum and the mass conservation equations are commonly used for the simulation of debris flow initiation, propagation and deposition both in field and in laboratory research. The numerical solution of the partial differential equations can be very complicated and consequently many approximations that neglect some of their terms have been proposed in literature. Many numerical methods have been also developed to solve the equations. However we show in this paper that the choice of a reliable rheological model can be more important than the choice of the best approximation or the best numerical method to employ. A simulation of a debris flow event that occurred in 2004 in an experimental basin on the Italian Alps has been carried out to investigate this issue. The simulated results have been compared with the hydrographs recorded during the event. The rheological parameters that have been obtained through the calibration of the mathematical model have been also compared with the rheological parameters obtained through the calibration of previous events, occurred in the same basin. The simulation results show that the influence of the inertial terms of the Saint-Venant equation is much more negligible than the influence of the rheological parameters and the geometry. A methodology to quantify this influence has been proposed.