Experimental and Numerical Investigation of Floating Large Woody Debris Impact on a Masonry Arch Bridge

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Masonry arch bridges form an essential part of existing transport infrastructure around the world, including mainland Europe and the northeastern US. Recent extreme flood events highlight that masonry arch bridges spanning watercourses are vulnerable to flood-induced hydrodynamic and debris impact loads. When the flow interacts with the bridge superstructure, with or without discrete floating debris, a complex interaction is observed. This paper presents both experimental and numerical studies to investigate this complex phenomenon, including fluid–structure and structure– structure interactions. A typical single-span masonry arch bridge and large woody debris representing a tree log are investigated. Experimental observations from a scaled hydraulic model, with and without debris in the flow, are first presented for the case where the abutment of the bridge is fully submerged. Next, the capability of the numerical method smoothed particle hydrodynamics (SPH) in simulating the hydrodynamic behaviour and debris impact observed in the experiment is discussed. Following this, both hydrodynamic and debris-induced pressure–time histories on the bridge are obtained using the SPH model. Results reveal that the debris impact leads to a significantly more localised load on the bridge compared to the situation with hydrodynamic load only.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022


  • masonry arch bridges
  • flood events
  • open channel flow
  • discrete debris impact force
  • drag force
  • pressures
  • SPH

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global inequalities
  • Sustainable Futures


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