Avalanche dynamics on a rough inclined plane

Tamás Börzsönyi, Thomas C. Halsey, Robert E. Ecke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

35 Citations (Scopus)


The avalanche behavior of gravitationally forced granular layers on a rough inclined plane is investigated experimentally for different materials and for a variety of grain shapes ranging from spherical beads to highly anisotropic particles with dendritic shape. We measure the front velocity, area, and height of many avalanches and correlate the motion with the area and height. We also measure the avalanche profiles for several example cases. As the shape irregularity of the grains is increased, there is a dramatic qualitative change in avalanche properties. For rough nonspherical grains, avalanches are faster, bigger, and overturning in the sense that individual particles have down-slope speeds up that exceed the front speed uf as compared with avalanches of spherical glass beads that are quantitatively slower and smaller and where particles always travel slower than the front speed. There is a linear increase of three quantities: (i) dimensionless avalanche height, (ii) ratio of particle to front speed, and (iii) the growth rate of avalanche speed with increasing avalanche size with increasing tan θr where θr is the bulk angle of repose, or with increasing βP, the slope of the depth averaged flow rule, where both θr and βP reflect the grain shape irregularity. These relations provide a tool for predicting important dynamical properties of avalanches as a function of grain shape irregularity. A relatively simple depth-averaged theoretical description captures some important elements of the avalanche motion, notably the existence of two regimes of this motion.

Original languageEnglish
Article number011306
JournalPhysical Review E - Statistical, Nonlinear, and Soft Matter Physics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 21 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics

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