Dam-Break Induced Debris Flow

  1. William McCaffrey,
  2. Ben Kneller and
  3. Jeff Peakall
  1. H. Capart1,
  2. D.-L. Young2 and
  3. Y. Zech3

Published Online: 17 MAR 2009

DOI: 10.1002/9781444304275.ch11

Particulate Gravity Currents

Particulate Gravity Currents

How to Cite

Capart, H., Young, D.-L. and Zech, Y. (2001) Dam-Break Induced Debris Flow, in Particulate Gravity Currents (eds W. McCaffrey, B. Kneller and J. Peakall), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444304275.ch11

Editor Information

  1. School of Earth Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, West Yorkshire, UK

Author Information

  1. 1

    Fonds National de la Recherche Scientifique and Department of Civil Engineering, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium

  2. 2

    Department of Civil Engineering and Hydraulic Research Laboratory, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China

  3. 3

    Department of Civil Engineering, Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 17 MAR 2009
  2. Published Print: 24 APR 2001

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780632059218

Online ISBN: 9781444304275



  • dam-break induced debris flow;
  • initiation mechanisms for debris flows - en masse failure of water-saturated slopes;
  • dam-break events with documented sediment deposits;
  • physical and mathematical description;
  • fundamental processes;
  • dam-break wave starting out as clear water - rapidly picking up sediment from dam body and from valley floor;
  • bulking and debulking processes, backwater effects, and channelization


The present report focuses on the hydrodynamic and geomorphic behaviour of dam-break induced debris flows. Based on a review of the literature, we first examine various instances in which abrupt floods released by the breaking of natural or constructed dams have been observed to develop into debris waves, picking up solid material both from the dam body and from the valley floor. We then assess the extent to which modelling and experimental approaches can account for the field observations gathered from these events. The modelling approach considered consists of a shallow-water, single-fluid physical description, while the experiments involve idealized laboratory analogues. Results of these two approaches are compared and discussed for the case of a dam-break induced debris wave propagating past a sudden channel enlargement.