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Applicability of the Fracture Flow Interface to the Analysis of Piping in Granular Material

S. Bersan[1], C. Jommi[2], A. Koelewijn[3], P. Simonini[1]
[1]University of Padua, Padua, Italy
[2]Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands
[3]Deltares, Delft, The Netherlands

Piping is a kind of internal erosion that occurs under water retaining structures lying on a sandy soil. In an attempt to reproduce the growth of erosion channels in sand, a small scale physical model has been set up in the laboratory and a finite element model that reproduces the physical model has been developed. This paper presents the comparison among modeling strategies, from which emerged that laminar flow in the erosion channel can be modelled using Darcy’s law and the Fracture Flow interface. A first use of the numerical model is also presented, concerning the optimization of the size of the small-scale set-up.