The Effects of Headcut and Knickpoint Propagation on Bridges in Iowa, TR-541, 2008

(2008) The Effects of Headcut and Knickpoint Propagation on Bridges in Iowa, TR-541, 2008. Transportation, Department of


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The overarching goal of the proposed research was to provide a predictive tool for knickpoint propagation within the HCA (Hungry Canyon Alliance) territory. Knickpoints threaten the stability of bridge structures in Western Iowa. The study involved detailed field investigations over two years in order to monitor the upstream migration of a knickpoint on Mud Creek in Mills County, IA and identify the key mechanisms triggering knickpoint propagation. A state-of-the-art laser level system mounted on a movable truss provided continuous measurements of the knickpoint front for different flow conditions. A pressure transducer found in proximity of the truss provided simultaneous measurements of the flow depth. The laser and pressure transducer measurements led to the identification of the conditions at which the knickpoint migration commences. It was suggested that negative pressures developed by the reverse roller flow near the toe of the knickpoint face triggered undercutting of the knickpoint at this location. The pressure differential between the negative pressure and the atmospheric pressure also draws the impinging jet closer to the knickpoint face producing scour. In addition, the pressure differential may induce suction of sediment from the face. Other contributing factors include slump failure, seepage effects, and local fluvial erosion due to the exerted fluid shear. The prevailing flow conditions and soil information along with the channel cross-sectional geometry and gradient were used as inputs to a transcritical, one dimensional, hydraulic/geomorphic numerical model, which was used to map the flow characteristics and shear stress conditions near the knickpoint. Such detailed flow calculations do not exist in the published literature. The coupling of field and modeling work resulted in the development of a blueprint methodology, which can be adopted in different parts of the country for evaluating knickpoint evolution. This information will assist local government agencies in better understanding the principal factors that cause knickpoint propagation and help estimate the needed response time to control the propagation of a knickpoint after one has been identified.

Item Type: Departmental Report
Keywords: Bridges, Channel flow, Hydraulics, Mathematical models, Scour, Shear stress
Subjects: Transportation
Transportation > Bridges and tunnels
Transportation > Roads and highways
Transportation > Design and Construction
Transportation > Environment > Water
ID Code: 20055
Deposited By: Iowa DOT Library
Deposited On: 07 Jul 2015 12:16
Last Modified: 07 Jul 2015 12:16