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Time development of local scour at a bridge pier fitted with a collar



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A series of relatively recent bridge failures due to pier scour, as reported in literature, has rekindled interest in furthering our understanding of the scour process and for developing improved ways of protecting bridges against scour. Moreover, increased attention is being given to the state of Canada’s infrastructure, a major aspect of which is the transportation network. In part, there is concern about both the impact of a failure on the handling of traffic flow while the failure is being remedied and on the cost of replacing the failed system component. As such, attention is being given to the scour design of new bridges and to the inspection, maintenance and management of existing bridge structures. The two major countermeasure techniques employed for preventing or minimising local scour at bridge piers are increased scour resistance and flow alteration. In the former case, the objective is to combat the erosive action of the scour-inducing mechanisms using hard engineering materials or physical barriers such as rock riprap. In the latter case, the objective is to either inhibit the formation of the scour-inducing mechanisms or to cause the scour to be shifted away from the immediate vicinity of the pier. This research focuses on a particular application of the latter technique. In this study, the use of collars for reducing the effects of local scour at a bridge pier is presented together with the time aspect of the scour development. The adoption of a collar is based on the concept that its existence will sufficiently inhibit and/or deflect the local scour mechanisms so as to reduce the local scour immediately adjacent to the pier. The overall objective of the research is to study the temporal development of the scour for a pier fitted with a collar and a pier without a collar. More specifically, the objectives are: i) to evaluate the effectiveness of a pier collar for mitigating the depth of scour that would otherwise occur at a bridge pier; and ii) to assess the occurrence of an equilibrium scour condition, if achieved, or of the implications of not achieving such a condition in respect of interpreting the results obtained from a physical hydraulic model study. The study was conducted using a physical hydraulic model operated under clear-water conditions in cohesionless bed material. Tests were conducted using two different pier diameters so as to determine the effect of pier diameter on the temporal development of scour for a plain pier. Also investigated was the effect of collar size on the time development of scour and its efficacy at preventing scour at a bridge pier. The time development of the scour hole around the model pier with and without a collar installed was compared with similar studies on bridge piers. Several equations for the temporal development of scour depth and those for the prediction of the equilibrium scour depth were tested as part of this study. The results of the model study indicated that the maximum depth of scour is highly dependent on the experimental duration. The depth of the scour hole increases as the duration of the increased flow that initiates the scour increases. The extent of scour observed at the pier also increases as the duration of the tests increases. It was found that the temporal development of the scour hole at the pier was dependent on whether or not the pier was fitted with a collar placed at the bed level. The pathway to an equilibrium scour depth is different depending on whether the pier is fitted with a collar or not. With a collar in place, the development of the scour hole is considerably delayed. A truly equilibrium scour condition is not readily attainable and was not achieved in the work reported herein. It was demonstrated that wrong conclusions may be reached if a test is stopped short of an equilibrium state. As regards the temporal development of scour depth and for the tests in which no collar was fitted to the pier, it was noted that the form of equation that fits the experimental data well was the one given by Franzetti et al. (1982). Furthermore, it is possible to reach a variety of conclusions about the efficacy of using collars as a pier scour countermeasure technique, depending on which definition of time to equilibrium scour is adopted.



Time development of scour, Bridge pier, Local scour, Collar, Scour countermeasure, Equilibrium scour condition, Flume tests, Model study, Initiation of motion, Clear-water scour, Cohesionless soil



Master of Science (M.Sc.)


Civil Engineering


Civil Engineering


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