EGU General Assembly 2020
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the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Assessing energetic flow structures responsible for bridge pier scour

Yi Xu, Manousos Valyrakis, and Panagiotis Michalis
Yi Xu et al.
  • University of Glasgow, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (

Scour has been recognized as one of the primary reasons for bridge pier destabilization. As extreme weather intensifies and hydraulic infrastructure such as bridge piers and abutments (many constructed since the Victorian era, for the case of the UK) continues to age, the challenge of scour-induced hazards will keep growing impacting the resilience of our society. Thus, there is an increasing value in studying the highly dynamical process of scour around hydraulic infrastructure. Maximum scour depth estimation has been broadly studied by researchers over the past decades, using phenomenological or empirical approaches, linking mean flow properties, bridge pier and riverbed materials characteristics [1, 2].

This study aims to get a better understanding of how the turbulent flow field modified by the bridge pier, interacts with the bed surface towards the generation of the scour hole. This is pursued by following a dynamical approach via assessing the flow structures that are sufficiently energetic [3] to remove bed material from the vicinity of the bridge pier.

A series of scour experiments with different lengthscale of model bridge piers is conducted in a water recirculating research flume. For each of these cases flow velocity profiles are collected downstream the bridge pier using high resolution acoustic Doppler velocimetry (ADV). Using the raw data collected near the bed surface and information for the bed surface material, the criterion of impulse [4] is used as a metric for assessing the extend and maximum scour depth. The results are compared for the different measurement locations are compared to better understand the process of scour downstream different model piers.

[1]. M Valyrakis, P Michalis, H Zhang, (2015). A new system for bridge scour monitoring and prediction, Proceedings of the 36th IAHR World Congress, 1-4.

[2]. Yagci, O., Celik, M. F., Kitsikoudis, V., Ozgur Kirca, V.S., Hodoglu, C., Valyrakis, M. , Duran, Z. and Kaya, S. (2016) Scour patterns around isolated vegetation elements. Advances in Water Resources, 97, pp. 251-265.(doi:10.1016/j.advwatres.2016.10.002)

[3]. Valyrakis, M. , Diplas, P. and Dancey, C.L. (2013) Entrainment of coarse particles in turbulent flows: an energy approach. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 118(1), pp. 42-53. (doi:10.1029/2012JF002354)

[4]. Valyrakis, M. , Diplas, P., Dancey, C.L., Greer, K. and Celik, A.O. (2010) Role of instantaneous force magnitude and duration on particle entrainment. Journal of Geophysical Research: Earth Surface, 115(F02006), 18p. (doi:10.1029/2008JF001247)

How to cite: Xu, Y., Valyrakis, M., and Michalis, P.: Assessing energetic flow structures responsible for bridge pier scour, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-1502,, 2019