EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Assessing Experimental Methods for the Quantification of Particle Size Segregation in Large Scale Flume Tests using Image Analysis

Julia Kimball1,4, Elisabeth Bowman2, Nico Gray3, and Andy Take4
Julia Kimball et al.
  • 1BGC Engineering, Kingston, Canada (
  • 2Department of Civil and Structural Engineering, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, United Kingdom
  • 3School of Mathematics, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
  • 4Department of Civil Engineering, Queen's University, Kingston, Canada

Particle size segregation is a phenomenon that generates preferential sorting of particles, based on size, in material flows of non-uniform size distribution. Landslide hazards, such as debris flows, involve materials of non-uniform particle sizes and therefore generate flow structures which arise from particle size segregation. The mobility, distal reach and impact forces associated with these natural hazards are influenced by these processes. Understanding the mechanisms of this phenomenon is essential for acquiring accurate input parameters that are needed to model these flows and properly design debris flow barriers and retaining structures. While the dynamics of particle size segregation in flow and deposition have been furthered through studying granular flows, studies to date have had several limitations. They primarily examine flows of bidispersed material, are small in scale, and rely on observations from flume sidewalls, precluding the study of dynamics along the centreline of flows. In this study, a large scale 6.8 m long and 2.1 m wide slope inclined at 30 degrees was used to generate dry tridispersed granular flows with 0.6 m3 of material. The tridisperse mixture consisted of even proportions by mass of 3 mm, 6 mm and 12 mm diameter spherical particles. Replicate tests were conducted to observe flow dynamics and assess methods for sampling along the internal plane of the test deposit. Image analysis techniques were developed to quantify particle size distributions within the deposit. Flume sidewall and internal observations were found to differ significantly from each other, in that side wall observations contained significantly higher proportions of the largest particle size. Additional replicate tests were conducted with saturated material to further examine the impact of pore fluid on segregation. This work will allow for future calibration of both numerical and theoretical models of particle size segregation and ultimately enable better debris flow modelling and mitigation practices.

How to cite: Kimball, J., Bowman, E., Gray, N., and Take, A.: Assessing Experimental Methods for the Quantification of Particle Size Segregation in Large Scale Flume Tests using Image Analysis, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-10517,, 2023.