physical modeling

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Scaling up debris-flow experiments on a centrifuge

Boundary forces generated by debris flows can be powerful enough to erode bedrock and cause considerable damage to infrastructure during runout. Formulation of an erosion-rate law for debris flows is therefore a high priority, and it makes sense to build such a law around laboratory experiments.  We scale up granular impact forces by running our experiments under enhanced gravity in a geotechnical centrifuge. Using a 40cm-diameter rotating drum spun at up to 100g, we generate debris flows with an effective depth of over several meters.