Experimental investigation of pier scour depth and its scour hole pattern for different shapes

Kaleem Afzal Khan, Muhammad Waseem, Mehtab Alam, Mujahid Khan, Megersa Kebede Leta

Article ID: 3096
Vol 8, Issue 4, 2024

VIEWS - 272 (Abstract) 116 (PDF)


Local scour, a complex phenomenon in river flows around piers with movable beds, can damage bridge piers during high floods. Predicting scour depth accurately is vital for safety and economic reasons, especially for large bridges. This study using hydraulic flume laboratory experiments compared diamond, square, and elliptical pier models of different sizes under steady clear-water conditions considering different flow rates and discharge levels to identify the most efficient shape with less local scour. Local scour, a complex phenomenon in three-dimensional flow around piers in rivers with movable beds, can lead to detrimental effects on bridge piers due to high flood velocities. Accurate prediction of scour depth is crucial for economic and safety reasons, especially for large bridges with complex piers. Hydraulic engineers are keen on forecasting the equilibrium scour depth. To achieve this, laboratory testing compared diamond, square, and elliptical pier models under steady clear-water conditions to identify the most efficient pier shape with less local scour. This research provides valuable insights for optimizing pier design to enhance bridge stability and resilience against scour-induced risks. A variety of configurations, including different sizes and shapes of piers were experimented with in the flume using diamond, square, and elliptical shapes. The test results showed that the local scour depth around elliptical piers was around 29.16% less, and around diamond piers, it was approximately 16.05% less compared to the scour depth observed around square piers with the same dimensions. The researchers also observed distinct patterns of scouring around different pier shapes. Specifically, the square-shaped piers displayed the highest level of scouring depth, that is, 48 mm, followed by the diamond-shaped pier which experienced a scouring depth of 48 mm while the elliptical-shaped piers experienced the least amount of scouring depth, that is, 34 mm. The test results also demonstrated that pier size significantly influences scouring, with an increase in pier size from 3 × 3 cm2 to 5 × 5 cm2 leading to a rise in scour depth by 26.04%. Moreover, this study findings also elucidated that an increase in flow results in an increase of in scouring depth i.e., elevating the discharge from 0.0026 cumecs to 0.0029 cumecs led to a 28.13% increase in scouring depth for the identical pier size. These findings provide valuable insights into the hydraulic behavior of various pier shapes and can aid in the optimization of bridge design and hydraulic engineering practices. The investigations further revealed that local scouring is sensitive not only to pier dimensions but also to other critical parameters, including flow rate, time of exposure, and the size of a pier.


local scour; bridge piers; hydraulic structures; different shaped pier; experimental investigation; flow rate

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.24294/jipd.v8i4.3096


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