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PINSA 64, A, No.4, July 1998, pp. 569-580.

e Printed in India

SCOUR AROUND BRIDGE PIERS


R ] GARDE*

AND U C KOTHYARI**

*/NSA Senior Scientist, Central Water and Power Research Station, Khadakwasla, Pune-4'11 024

**Civil Engineering Department, University ofRoorkee, Roorkee (u.P.)


(Received 10 June 1997; Revised 05 December 1997; Accepted 04 February 1998)
The paper describes the phenomenon of scour around bridge piers and then enumerates the methOds for its prediction.
The scour data from prototype bridges are analysed to comment on the relative accuracy of fo~r methods of s~our
prediction. Brief comments are made on scour ~ound bridg~ piers in clayey bed and gravel-bed nvers. Lastly, vanous
techniques studied for scour control and protectlOn are des,"nbed.

Key W d' Scour in Alluvial Streams; Scour Estimation; Scour Prevention; Scour Protection Devices;
or s. Lacey-Inglis Equation; LaurSen-Toch Equation; Melville & Sutherland's Equation; Chitale's
Method; Kothyari-Garde-Ranga Raju's Method

The stream bed lowering at the bridge can take


place due to four primary reasons. If the bridge is
Scour is the local lowering of stream bed elevation
located downstream of a large dam, there is a slow
which takes place in the vicinity or around a
lowering of the bed and reduction of stream slope
structure constructed in flowing water. Scour takes
due to degradation. Degradation takes place when
place around bridge piers, abutments, around
the stream transporting sediment becomes
spurs, jetties and breakwaters due to modification
deficient in sediment supply due to sediment being
of flow pattern in such a way as to cause increase
stored upstream of the dam. In extreme cases this
in local shear stress. This in tum dislodges the
lowering can be as much as 4 to 6 meters.
material on the stream bed resulting in local scour.
Secondly, if for reducing the cost of the bridge the
In the case of bridges, the estimation of correct
stream is contracted by building guide bunds etc.,
depth of scour below the stream bed is very
such contraction can cause additional lowering of
important since that detennines the depth of
the stream bed. The depth in the contracted section
foundation. Hubert has stated that since 1950 over
is given by
500 bridges in USA have failed and that the
majority of the failures were related to the scour of
DID I =(B /B ~O.69 to 0.79,
foundation material. Such data are not available for
... (1)
the Indian bridges; however, this has been the
matter of concern to the Government of India and where B and D are width and depth of flow in the
1
1
some detailed hydrologic and scour studies have
uncontracted section and Bi2 and D 2 are the
been undertaken at selected bridges by the corresponding values in the contracted section. The
concerned organisations. This concern about safety third type of lowering that takes place around the
of bridges is primarily due to three reasons which bridge pier is due to modification of flow structure
are: (1) inadequate knowledge about scour due to presence of the pier. Depending on the pier
phenomenon when the bridges were constructe~; shape and free stream condition, an eddy structure
(2) inadequate data on which the design flood was
comprising of one or more of the three eddy
chosen; and (3) increase in the loading on the structures, namely horse-shoe vortex, wave vortex
bridge due to increase in size of trucks, wagons, system and the trailing vortex system can fonn;
and their frequency of operation.
this increases the local shear on the bed and causes

Introduction

Author tor Correspondence:


Professor R J Garde, Professor Emeritus, CWPRS, Pune-411 024

scour. Typical fonnation of horse-shoe vortex is


shown in Fig. 1. Lastly, additional scour can also

570

R J GARDE AND U C KOTHYARI


/~/~

_/'/

~-~/~"

'I/'ls

PIER~

~!

'~

'

Q.~'\'"

J 1

J :
,/,)

I I /---.

.I~~

._-....:...-

UJ

""

.,..fII-

. $-c '.',

''( -At!

><-

_ HORSE - SHOE

VORTEX

"-

"

Fig. I Definition sketch

take place if the flow direction is inclined to the


pier axis.
Factors Affecting Scour Depth
A number of papers have been published since
1940 on various aspects of scour around bridge
piers. Based on the experimental work and some
theoretical analysis it is found that the following
factors. affect the scour depth at the bridge pier.
(a) Whether the Incoming Flow is Clear Water
Flow or it Carries Sediment: Clear water flow
occurs when u.lu.c is less than unity while for
sediment transporting flow u.lu.c is greater than
unity. Here U.=...JgDS is the shear velocity of flow
and U.c is the shear velocity at which bed material
starts moving, D is the depth of flow in the river
and S is the river slope. Average shear stress on the
bed is 'to= SfU~~1/ DS where 1/ is the unit weight of
water and Sf its mass density. All factors remaining the same clear water scour is found to be about
100/0 more than scour in sediment transporting
flows. Further, whereas in clear water flow it takes
several hours to reach the maximum scour below
river bed d sc ' in sediment transporting flow
corresponding equilibrium scour depth dse is
reached in relatively shorter time.
(b) Effect of Change in Depth of Flow:
2
Experim~nts by MelVille and Sutherland have
shown that when (depth of flow/pier width) ratio
i.e., Dib is greater than 2.6, scour depth does not
depend on the depth of flow; for smaller depths,
the scour depth depends on the depth of flow.
(c) Effect of Shape of Pier Nose: The shape of
the pier nose aff~cts the strength of horse-shoe
vortex as well as the separation of the flow around

the bridge pier; hence it affects the maximum


scour depth. The following Table I prepared on the
basis of studies by Laursen and Toch 3, Chabert and
Engeldinger4 , Garde 5 , and Paintal and Garde 6 ,
gives relative effect of pier-nose shape on the
maximum scour if for cylindrical pier the
maximum scour is taken as unity.
Table I
A verage values ofshape coefficients K s

Shape
Cylindrical

1.0

Rectangular (//b=2 to 6)

1.1 to 1.25

Lenticular (2: 1,3: 1,4: I)

0.93,0.79,0.70

Elliptical (2: 1,3: 1)

1.0,0.86

Joukowsky profile (4: 1, 5: I)

1.0,0.80

Triangular: J 5 apex angle

0.45

60 apex angle

0.75

90 apex angle

0.88

120 apex angle

0.94

1500 apex angle

1.00

(d) Effect of Angle of Inclination of Pier on


Scour Depth: When the axis of the pier makes an
angle e with the general direction of the flow, two
major changes take place in the flow field. Except
in the case of cylindrical pier, the separation
pattern is drastically changed resulting in change
in vortices. Secondly, the open width between the
piers, perpendicular to the flow direction reduces
as the angle of inclination e increases.

SCOUR AROUND BRIDGE PIERS

571

indicated that d K -r 31 while for sediment


transporting flow d se-r 07 Here d se and d K are the
scour depths below general bed level for sediment
Scour at an angle of inclination ()
transporting
and clear water flows.
Scour when the flow is axial
The effect of size distribution of the bed
material on the scour depth is more significant.
dep~nds on pier shape and () and increases as
When
the standard deviation crg of the bed material
shown in Table II.
is
large
and the bed material contains some
For rectangular piers K a will be function of ()
and lib. Curves between these parameters are "given nonmoving sizes for a given discharge, the coarser
material would tend to accumulate in the scour
by Laursen 7
hole and inhibit further development of scour
Table II
depth. Hence for the same median size, scour
depth will be smaller for material with larger
Effect oj () on Kt)Jor rectangular pier (/lb=6.0)
geometric standard deviation crg Here

The coefficient Ko=

7.5 0

crg= 1/2(ds/dso-t:dscld'6)
1.0

1.17

1.37

2.37

3.77

(e) Effect ofOpening Ratio on Scour Depth: The


opening ratio a is defined as a=(B-b)/B where B. is
centre to centre spacing of the piers and b is the
pier width. When b is very small compared to B, a

is close to unity and flow around one pier does not


affect that around the other. However, as a
decreases, the interference effect becomes more
pronounced and scour depth increases; in such a
case DsJD or Dsc!d-a-o. Here Dse and DK are scour
depths below the water surface for sediment
transporting and clear water flows respectively.
The analysis of extensive data collected by Garde
et aI. 21 indicate that n=0.30.
(j) Effect ofBed Material Characteristics: In the
case of noncohesive materials, the characteristics
of the bed material that affect the scour depth are
sediment density, median size d of the bed
material, its standard deviation and stratification.
For all practical purposes the density of natural
sediments can be taken as 2.65, a constant value.
As regards the sediment size, Lacey-Inglis
approach (see below) suggests that D se-a- l /6 Since
the average shear stress on the bed (=yf DS) at
which bed material moves-known as the critical
shear stress-increases as the sediment size
increases, it stands to reason that scour depth
should be affected by the size of the bed material.
Hence, for given flow condition, larger than the
sediment size d, smaller should be the scour depth.
The clear water scour depth should decrease with
increase in sediment size. Analysis of data over
large range of sediment size by Kothyari 8 has

and d S4 ' d so and d 16 are such sizes that 84%, 50%


and 16% material is finer than d 84 , d so and d 16 sizes
respectively. The percentages 84 and 16 are
such that for normal or Gaussian distribution
d s4=(dso+standard deviation) and (d 16 = dso-standard
deviation). If the correction factor K a is defined as
Equilibrium scour depth for non K =
(j

uniform material
.
Equilibrium scour depth for uniform
material of the same median size

. K a would depend on a g On the basis of

experimental. data of Raudkivi 9 and Kothyari 8 the


following table is given.
(g) Stratification: Ettema lO and Kothyari s have
studied the effect of stratification of the bed
material on scour depth in case of clear water
scour. It is concluded that the stratification, in
which a relatively thin coarse top layer covers a
thick fine bottom layer, is the critical condition.
Once the top coarse layer is scoured away, scour
depth will rapidly increase.
(h) Effect ofFlow Parameters: Based on certain
theoretical analysis, physical reasoning and
analysis of experimental data, investigators have
arrived at the basic flow parameters to which the
dimensionless scour depth is related. Thus
Breusers et al.'\ Laursen and Toch 12 , Larras l3 and
Ettema 10 consider biD as the important 'parameter
and hence they related dsJD to biD. Thus
according to Breusers et al. II
dsJD= l.4(bID)

... (2)

572

R J GARDE AND U C KOTHYARI


Table III
Variation a/KG with

O"g

Cf g

1.0

1.5

2.0

2.40

2.75

3.3

7.8

Ka

1.0

0.90

0.75

0.50

0.38

0.25

0.160

0.08

where b is the pier width or diameter.


Lacey and Inglis J4 compute Lacey's depth D LQ
for flood discharge Q as
D LQ=0.47(Q/j) 1/3
(3)
in metric units and relate scour depth below water
surface Dse to D LQ as
... (4)

Lacey-Inglis Equation
In the earlier part of this century Lacey analysed
the data from stable irrigation canals flowing
through loose noncohesive sandy material in IndoGangetic plain and obtained the following
equations for depth (or hydraulic radius) D LQ and
perimeter (or width) P .
D LQ=0.47(QIj) 1/3

... (3)

Here f is known as Lacey's silt factor and is given and


by eq. 9 (see below). On the other hand, Garde 5,
P=4.7S{Q,
... (8)
Shen et al. 15, Venkatadri et al. 16 , Coleman 17, and
Jain 18 show the importance of Froude number
3
Fr= V/
where V is the average velocity of where Q is the discharge in m / S, D LQ and P are in
m and f is Lacey's silt factor related to median size
flow. Then dsjD is related as
of the bed material d by the equation

vfD.

.. , (5)

f=1.76Wl,
where K is the constant: Typical equation of this
category is U.S. Army Engineers' equation
'" (6)
19
Shen et al. have related .the clear water scour to
the pier Reynolds number Vb/von the assumption
that the strength of horse-shoe vortex is a function
of Vb/v. Here v is the kinematic viscosity of water.
They have proposed the following equation for
enveloping curve between d sc and Vb/v.

dsc=O.000223(Vb/v)O.619,

... (9)

d being in mm. On the basis of analysis of scour


data on 17 bridges in alluvial rivers in North India
inglis 14 found that the maximum scour depth belo~
water level, D se is related to computed value of D LQ
as

Dse=KDLQ ,

(10)

where K varied from 1.76 to 2.59 with an average


of 2.09. Hence according to Inglis, D se is given by
the equation

... (7)
...(4)

Generally, the above types of relationships ClI \"


valid for cylindrical piers and for piers of other
shape and inclination to flow, the d se or d sc value
needs to be multiplied by K s and K e. Also these
equations are valid for nearly uniform bed
material, where armouring is not pronounced.

When bridge pier foundation is to be designed, this


equation will be used for a flood discharge of
return period 50 to 100 years, even though eq. (3)
is at best valid for bankful discharge. In the light of
the variables affecting scour depth mentioned
above, it will be clear that K in eq. (10) should
Recent Equations for Prediction of
depend on pier shape, sediment size, obliquity of
Scour Depth
flow etc~ Since these factors are not explicitly
Below are briefly discussed Lacey-Inglis approach taken into account, Lacey-Inglis method should not
commonly used in India and a few recently be used outside the range of data on which it is
developed equations.
based.

573

SCOUR AROUND BRIDGE PIERS

Laursen- Toch Equation


The equation proposed by Laursen and Toch l2
for prediction of d~ is

where D sem is the maximum anticipated scour depth


below water surface.

Kothyari-Garde-Ranga Raju 's Method


Based on the extensive laboratory data collected
ds/D=1.35(bID)o.70,
... (11) using uniform and nonuniform' sediments,
stratification and steady flows, Kothyari et al. 821
Melville and Sutherland's Equation
2
Melville and Sutherland have proposed a have proposed equations for determining clear
method for estimating the scoUr at bridge piers. water scour depth dsc and equilibrium scour depth
The method is completely based on the analysis of d se for steady flows. The analysis was done using
the laboratory data. Basically they assumed that the mathematical model based on the assumption
the largest possible scour depth around the bridge of formation of horse-shoe vortex on the upstream
side of the pier. Such a vortex increases the shear
pier is given by
stress on the bed and causes scour. Their equations
... (12)
for scour depth are

This scour depth below the general bed level is


reduced by multiplying factors which depend on
whether the scour is clear water scour, depth is
shallow and sediment is graded. The multiplying
factors are determined from the analysis of
experimental data covering a wide range of
pertinent variables.
Chi/ale's MetholfO
The method proposed by Chitale estimates the
probable maximum scour depth at the bridge pier.
Maximum scour depth at the pier d sem is computed
as

d sem=2.5 b.

... (13)

Clear Water Scour:


d

-l.

2 _U 2 )]0,40
(b)0.75(D)0.16[(U
_
c
a -0.30

= 0.66 _

(tiysd / PI)

... (15)

where the average critical velocity Uc is given by

(U/I(tiysdIP.) =1.20(bld)-O Il(Dld) 0. 16,

(16)

Scour Under Sediment Transporting Flow:

dslb=O.88(bld).67(DId)4fJU -o30

If the bridge is located at a constriction caused by


guide bunds, the average depth D 2 in the contracted
section is related to that in the uncontracted section
Dlby

(17)

Here tiys is the difference in specific weight of


sediment Y5 and water Ys' and Pf:is the mass density
of water.
It may be seen that in sediment transporting
flows, the scour depth is not dependent on
... (1) velocity. It may also be noted that the opening
ratio a affects the scour depth. When the sediment
where Bland B 2 are the unobstructed and is nonuniform, the scour depth is reduced' as
obstructed widths of the river channel. This compared to that for uniform sediment.. The
average depth D 2 in the contracted section may not reduction factor Ka is the function of the geometric
be uniform across the width because of standard deviation O'g of the bed material as shown
nonuniform flow distribution and curved entry. in Table III. Alternatively, when the sediment is
Analysis of eight bridges in Indo-Gangetic plain nonuniform, effective sediment size, deu be used in
indicated that ratios of maximum depth to the eqs 15, 16 and 17 instead of d the median size, the
average depth D 2 varied from 1.2 to 1.67. Hence, former being given by
Chitale recommends a ratio of 1.7.
deJd=O.925 O'gO.67
.'. Maxim\Ull local depth=1.70 D 2
... (18)
Hence, D sern=2.5 b+l.70 D 2

... (14)

for O'g> 1.124.

574

R J GARDE AND U C KOTHYARI

Field data
To assess the relative accuracy of the above
mentioned formulae, all available field data on
scour around bridge piers were compiled and
analysed. The Indian data on scour around pfer for
17 bridges in Indo-Gangetic plain, collected by
Inglis 14, were available. In addition, data collected
by RDSO (Research Designs and Standards
Organisation22.23.24,2s), Lucknow, on railway
bridges, and some data on scour at bridge piers on
Ganga canal were also used.
Scour data for 55 bridges in USA published by
Froehilch26, six bridges in New Zealand reported
by Melville27 , and for five bridges in Canada
reported by Neil 2s have also been used. Their
summary is given in Table IV.
In passing, it may be mentioned that not enough
information is available on scour measuring
equipment, even though the principles and broad
circuitry used in imported equipments are known.
There is an urgent need to fabricate the equipment
in Indiaand make it available to user agencies.
Analysis of Field Data for Scour Depth

method is shown in Fig. 2. The results of the four


methods are compared in Table V.
It can thus be seen that among the four methods
tested, namely Lacy-Inglis,
Laursen-Toch,
Melville-Sutherland and Kothyari et al., the
methods by Kothyari et al. and MelvilleSutherland give results of almost the same
accuracy. These methods are also superior in that
these take into account the effect of flow depth,
velocity, pier size and shape, and the size
distribution of bed material on' scour depth.
Some comments can also be made about LaceyInglis method. The method is basically empirical
and gives scour depth below the high flood level in
the case of meandering rivers in flood plains in
sandy materials with sediment size varying from
0.2 mm to 0.4 mm. The method, though based on a
very limited data from prot0o/Pe bridges, seems to
give satisfactory results or oversafe values. It
should not be used for rivers with cohesive or
gravelly bed materials. Further, it is important that
it should be used as was recommended by Inglis
i.e., computing D LQ from eq. 3 and then finding
D se . Also, since Lacey-Inglis did not independently
account for scour due to nonuniform flow
distribution, contraction and pier geometry and
inclination, all these effects are inherent in Lacey's
scour depth.

Using the data mentioned above, four relationships


were tested for their accuracy of prediction of
scour depth. These were Lacey-Inglis, LaursenToch, Melville-Sutherland and Kothyari et al. The
Scour in Clayey Soils
comparison between observed and predicted scour
depths were plotted for each of the four methods. When the river bed consists of clayey material
Typical graph for comparison between the different types of forces act between soil particles
observed and computed dse or d sc for Kothyari et al. which resist the dislodgement of particles that
Table IV
Summary offield data
Source

Sediment
sizedmm

Flow depth
m

U
m/s

Pier diameter
orwidth m

Scour depth
below bed
level m

RDSO

0.43+-1.6+

1.46-19.11

N.A.

2.33-5.18

2.40-16.25

Inglis

~r-0.39+

4.4-18.3

N.A.

3-11.3

7.60*-35.7*

Upper Ganga Canal

0.18-0.21

0.88-3.00

0.35-1.0

0.68-2.4

1.20-5.87

USA

0.25-90

0.58-19.5

0.46-3.67

0.24-13.0

0.30-7.80

New Zealand

94-230

2.7-3.8

0.87-4.27

0.92-2.4

2.75-4.88

0.50

4.0-7.5

N.A.

1.50

5.30*-9.8*

Canada

N.A.-Not Applicable, +Lacey's Regime depth, *Measurement below water surface.

SCOUR AROUND BRIDGE PIERS

r-----------------------.

10 J

575

10'

LEGEND'
0

&II

:>

.
.

If

IE

&II
In

, -

10

'0

a A

U/~
0

fPo

-,
-,

1O

U. G CANAL DATA

+ -

GANGA AT MOkAMEH
OTHER DATA OF- R 0 SO
AA"I RIVER OAT ..
iNGLIS OAT.

A -

cP

1t

NEWZE"t.ANO

A -

o -

,.

10

10

d. ( COMPUTED)

IN m

U S DATA

10

10

Fig. 2 Observed vs computed scour depths by Kothyari et a/.


method .
Table V
Van der waa)'s forces ,

cause scour. These are


electric surface and other bonding mechanisms
such as hydrogen bond, and chemical cementation
between particles. Hence scour in clayey materials
is more complex and less understood than the
scour in noncohesive sandy material. Unlike in the
case of noncohesive sands, flow conditioIll at
which clayey material will erode is very difficult to
predict because it depends on the type and
percentage of clay, quality of water and time.
Some investigators have tried to relate the critical
shear or critical velocity to plasticity index, vane
shear strength and such other properties; but these
attempts are hot very successful. Some basic work
on scour in cohesive soils has been done by
Mirtskhulava293o One idea that he has introduced
is to increase the specific weight of cohesive soils
to account for increased resistance. The increase in
the specific weight over the actual specific weight
is proportional to its cohesion. He has also
indicated that when cohesive soil is detached,
aggregates of 3 to 5 mm in size come out. Hence, it
may be necessary not to use the actual
characteristic size of cohesive sediment but the
size of aggregate soil. Because of such difficulties
no rational method is available for estimation of
scour depth around bridge piers in cohesive
material. Hence further experimental work in the
laboratory is needed under controlled conditions;
in addition some field data on scour in clayey soils
need to be collected.
l
Namjoshe and Kand32 have proposed methods for
estimation of scour depth in cohesive soils, but

Comparison ofaccuracy ofprediction ofscour depth by


different methods
% of Data points falling.within given

Method

error band

30

SO

90

Lacey-Inglis

S9

85

100

Laursen-Toch

38

65

98

Melville-Sutherland

79

95

100

Kothyari et al.

86

96

100

--::...------------.:....:------=-::..:...-.these are based on the data from one or two


bridges. Hence these methods need further
verification. According to Namjoshi scour depth
below general bed level ds in cohesive soils does
not exceed 1.5 b . Kand suggests use of LaceyInglis method with enhanced value of silt factor f.

f cohesive=F(1+ JC)

... (19)

where F varies between 1.50 and 2.0 as friction


angle decreases from 15 to 50 or less; here C is
the cohesion in kg/cm2
\

Scour in Gravel-Bed Rivers


Gravel-bed river is that river the bed material of
which is usually characterised by relatively large
median size and large standard deviation. Hence,
the bed material consists of material ranging from
very fine to very coarse particles. It is only during
relatively large flood that all the particles in the

576

R J GARDE AND U C KOTHYARI

bed material move; as the discharge reduces the


coarse particles, which cannot be moved "by the
flow, accumulate on the bed surface and form a
layer of nonmovable particles known as ~rmour
layer or paving. For low discharge there is no
sediment transport since the original material is
overlain by annour layer. The standard deviation
of the top layer is usually much smaller than that
of underlying original material. The top layer
thickness if> one to two times the largest size in the
bed material.
When the bridge pier is constructed in such a
strata and the discharge is sufficiently large, the
scour development would progress. During such
development, the coarser particles would
accumulate in the scour hole and partly inhibit
further development of the scour. Ultimately the
accumulated coarser material would stop further
scour and the scour depth obtained would be lpuch
smaller than that in uniform material of the same
d so .
The IRC-78-1979 code recommends that scour
depth in gravel-bed rivers can be estimated using
Lacey-Inglis approach involving discharge
intensity q m3Ism namely
D Lq=1.33(q21f)1/3
... (20)
and silt factor of 24. Here q is the discharge per
unit width of channel and DLq is depth of flow
calculated using q. In this connection, it may be
stated that no field data have been published to
support this contention In view of the fact that bed
material size of the gravel bed rivers varies over a
wide range. Published data of gravel bed rivers
indicate the depth relationship.
... (21)
see Hey and Heritage33 Here b varies between 0.33
and 0.49 and c.between - 0.03 and - 0.12. This is
different from Lacey's eq. (3). In addition such a
method does not take into account the effect of pier
width and its shape.
Bridge foundation are normally designed for a
flood of 50-year return period whereas the average
annual flood has a return period of 2.33 yrs. Hence,
at such a high discharge all the available sediment
sizes in the bed would move and would thus
destroy the armour layer or pavement formed

earlier. Thus one can consider scour to occur with


the original bed material in place without the
presence of armour layer.
The methods proposed by Kothyari et al. 8 and
Melville and Sutherland2 take into account the
effect of sediment nonuniformity and hence
annouring effect indirectly. Therefore, it is
recommended that these methods be used in place
of Lacey-Inglis method using q and /=24.
However, to study the relative accuracy of these
methods there is need to collect scour data from
gravel-bed river which are not available at present.
To intlicate the large variation in scour depth one
can see the results obtained for a hypothetical
problem solved by Garde and Kothyari 34 with the
following data:
U=2.5 mis, D=2.80 m, Diameter of circular pipe
b=2.5 m, a=almost equal to unity, 8=0, dso=45
mm, cr g=2.125
Table VI
Method
Raudkivi
Kothyari et at. 34
IRC Code
Melville and Sutherland

3.125 m
2.142m
1.520 m
4.800 m

The large differences in scour depth predicted


emphasize the need for further study of scour in
gravel-bed rivers. However, it seems that since
Kothyari et al. 34 and Melville and Sutherland2
methods take sediment nonuniformity into
account, these methods be used in place of IRC78-1979 code till additional data on scour in
gravel-bed rivers are available.
Methods of Scour Control and Prevention
Since taking the bridge pier sufficiently deep into
the bed to tak-e care of anticipated maximum scour
depth and the grip length requirement is quite
expensive, some attempts have been made to
reduce the scour either by some modification of
the pier, or some addition to it, and/or by
increasing the ability of the bed to resist the scour.
These methods are briefly discussed below. It may,
however, be mentioned that, to. the authors'
knowledge only a couple of methods discussed
below have been used in prototype bridges, and
hence their feasibility from the point of view of
structural design, construction and economy need

577

SCOUR AROUND BRIDGE PIERS

Tanaka and Yan0 37 , Chiew8 and others have


tested slots in cylindrical piers (Fig. 4). With the
be used in the field with confidence.
optimum dimension and location of the slot in the
Pier Modification
pier in the direction of flow the scour ratio was
Provision of the caisson or well having the 0.85 to 0.70 and reduction in width of scour hole
diameter three times the diameter of the pier is from 0 to 25 per cent. The slot near the water
recommended by Chabert and Engeldinger'" Shen surface reduces the effective depth of flow whereas
and Schnieders, and Jones et a/. 36 While Shen and the slot near the bed causes the jet issuing
Schneiders have suggested the use of a lip, downstream. This jet deflects the downward flow
Charbert and Engeldinger suggested that the top of in front of the pier and reduces the scour. It is felt
caisson be at bll depth below the general bed that keeping such a slot in the pier may create
level. The top surface of caisson protects the bed structural problems and may endanger the safety of
from scouring action of the horse-shoe vortex and the bridge.
thus reduces scour. The caisson top should be
Thomas39 , Ettema40 , Chiew8 , and Haghighat41
between 0 and 2.4 fib, see Fig. 3 for definition of have . experimented with circular collar of
y
appropriate diameter placed around the circular
The efficiency of such a device can be pier at a certain elevation above or below the bed,
quantified by the scour ratio Sr defined as
(Fig. 5). The optimum diameter of collar is found
to be 3b while location above the bed is 0.2 D. For
Sr = scour with device
this condition the scour ratio would be 0.80, while
scour without device
for a collar of 6 b diameter this ratio would be
0.45. Visual observations have shown that the
both under otherwise identical conditions. Scour
collar of adequate diameter inhibits the growth of
ratio Sr for caisson varies from 0.30 to 0.50, see
horse-shoe vortex and prevents it from reaching
Chabert and Engeldinger4 and Jones et aJ. 36.
the bed; as a result the scour is reduced. Ettema40
studied the reduction in scour when collar was
W.S.
placed on or below the bed; such a collar would
provide nonerodible surface but will not the inhibit
growth of horse-shoe vortex.
o~
Gupta and Gangadharaiah42 experimented with
the delta-wing-like triangular plate placed just in
front of the pier as shown in Fig. 6. The two
vortices released on the two sides of the triangular
plate are in opposite direction to the horse-shoe
vortex and hence the scour around the pier is
~--3b
reduced. The devices experimented with by Levi
and Luna43 are shown in Fig. 7. These included an
obstacle, a plate of small height and a group of
Fig. 3 Pier with cassion
piles placed in front of the pier. Among the three
ttl be evaluated further before these methods can

WS

ws

,-

DELTA WING
LIKE PLATE

Ys

/.

~/
Fig. 4 Slot in piers

~/
Fig. 5 Pier collar

Fig. 6 Delta-wing-like triangular


plate -

578

R J GARDE AND U C KOTHYARI

devices tested, the vertical plate with btfb=2, s/b=2


and tiD 0.30 to 0.40 seems to be a better device.
For such case the scour ratio was 0.30. Vittal
eta/. 44 have replaced the solid cylindrical pier of
diameter b by a group of three small piers of
diameter 0.302 b each, and placed at an angular
spacing of 1200 This was found to be effective in
reducing the scour. The scour ratio obtained was
0.60 (Fig. 8). They also tested the scour reducing

>-

~r<----;-->
~s,

W.S

---

- -.......... ----+-

PIER fCOLLAR

-..,

.--....---....,,

+-I

,/1

Fig.9 Vanes tested by Odgaard and Wang

Riprap Protection
Protecting the river bed and banks prone to
erosion by large size nonmovable stones (called
riprap) is an age old practice. Riprap blanket being
flexible, is not weakened by slight movement or
lowering of the bed. If 'to is the average shear stress
on the bed in Nlm 2 , the size of nonmovable stone
around the pier is given by 'tj120 m. If such stones
are placed on finer bed material, the fine material
underneath may get washed. For this reason proper
gradation of armour layer is needed. Otherwise a
filter needs to be provided underneath the riprap.
Limited experience about riprap protection
underlain by properly designed filter has indicated
that it is rather difficult to place relatively thin
layers of filter under deep water which is flowing.
Hence, efforts have been made to provide riprap
Protection without filters. This has been done by
47
.
Worman47 According to Worman a geometnc
standard deviation of 2 can be assumed for riprap
and d.IS can be determined. The thickness of riprap
T at the scour hole is given by

where UI=twice the flow velocity in the river, ds8S


is such a size of river bed material that 85 per cent
of the material is finer than this size, and daiS is
such a size of armour layer that 15 per cent
material is finer than this size. Worman has stated
d585'Id115 should be less than or equal to (j.l
. O.
Twenty bridges in Sweden have been prOVIded
with riprap protection according to the above
method and according to Worman no significant
scour is reported. With this design criteria, no filter
i needed underneath the armour layer.

0'302 b
Concluding Remarks
Fig. 8 Pier group tested by He

.The critical review of available literature and


analysis of ,prototype scour data around bridge

579

SCOUR AROUND BRIDGE PIERS

piers have brought out certain major observations.


During the past four or five decades a number of
equations have been developed' for predicting the
scour depth. Many of these are based on limited
laboratory data and a few on the basis of limited
field data. These studies have brought out the
effect of flow conditions, pier diameter and its
shape, sediment size and its nonuniformity and the
nature of flow (clear water or sediment
transporting) on scour.
There are difficulties of getting proper
instruments for measuring transient bed level in
the scour hole and maximum scour depth in
prototype bridges. Such equipment though
available abroad is not available and used in India.
When available scour data in sandy beds are
analysed using methods of Lacey-Inglis, LaursenToch, Melville-Sutherland, and Kothyari et al., it is
found that the methods proposed by MelvilleSutherland2 and Kothyari et al. 34 give more or less
the same accuracy. Further, these two methods
take into account all the factors affecting scour
around bridge piers. Hence these are superior to
the otherlt methods. It is also concluded that LaceyIngli& method should be used for sand bed rivers in
precisely the same manner as recommended by
Inglis. This should not be used for rivers with
clayey or gravel bed. Not enough infonnation is
available on scour around bridge piers in clayey
material. The phenomenon being very complex
further laboratory studies under controlled
conditions and field studies on measurement of
scour are needed. In the case of gravel-bed rivers
the provisions of IRe code seem arbitrary. The
methods of Melville and Sutherland2 , and Kothyari
et al. 34 seem more logical for prediction of scour in
gravel-bed rivers and should be used. Yet there are
no field data available to comment on the relative'
accuracy of prediction by these methods. Hence
efforts need to be made to collect scour data in
gravel-bed rivers.
Several devices have been tested which would
reduce scour at bridge piers or inhibit its
development. These work on the following
.principles: (i) prevent formation or reduce
:effectiveness of horse-shoe vortex; (ii) develop
circulatory flow near the bed in the direction
opposite to that of horse-shoe vortex to reduce or
nullify its effect; (iii) provide device on the

upstream side of the pier which will scour material


there. and deposit it in the scour hole of the pier;
and (iv) provide armour layer of adequate
thickness and appropriate size distribution which
would inhibit scour.
Among the various devices, collar, vanes, and
armour layer seem promising. Field studies need to
be conducted in India to gain experience about
their usage and. cost effectiveness. Lastly, there is
an urgent need to review codal provisions for
estimation of scour, in view of available additional
information.
Notations

D
DLQ

DLQ

Dsc
Dse
f
Fr
K

K.

Ka
~

T
To

V
VI

~c
y

a
Yf Ys

Pier width or pier diameter


, Channel width
Sediment size
Size of armour coat or riprap material
Characteristic size of bed materials; also scour
depth below bed level
Clear water scour depth below bed level
Scour depth below bed level in sediment
transporting flow
Average depth of flow
Lacey depth computed using the equation with Q
Lacey depth computed using the equation with q
D+dsc
D+dse

Lacey's still factor (=1.76..Jd)


Froude number (=U/vgD)
Coefficient of proportionality between Dse and D LQ
Shape coefficient of pier
Coefficient to take into account effect of sediment
nonunifortnity on scour
Obliquity coefficient
Pier length
Discharge per unit width of channel
Dicharge
Channel slope
Thickness of riprap
Average shear stress on the bed
Average velocity of flow
Local maximum average velocity
Critical velocity for sediment
Shear velocity (=...JtjPr)
Difference in elevation between river bed and top
surface of caisson
Opening ratio (=(B-b)/B)
Specific weights of water and sediment
Mass density of fluid
Angle between axis of pier and the flow direction
Kinematic viscosity of the fluid
Geometric standard deviation of
sedimen~~ (ds/ds(JH-d so +d I6 )
Subscript 16, 50, 84 Sediment size such that 16, 50
or 84 per cent of material is finer than the
corresponding size.

580

R J GARDE AND U C KOTHYARI

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...
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