Bridge Scour: Basic Mechanisms and Predictive Formulas

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This report aims at presenting basic knowledge on bridge scour and the processes governing its evolution as well as summarizing the most common formulas used to calculate scour depth at bridges. Design procedures concerning bridge scour in several different countries are also discussed, including United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. The situation in Sweden with regard to bridge scour is briefly reviewed and several case studies are presented where marked scour holes have been detected at bridges. Two cases of bridge failures in Sweden are included where local scour was the main reason for the collapse.
Bridge scour is typically separated into pier, abutment, and contraction scour, where each mechanism is controlled by different physics and governing parameters. Each type of bridge scour is discussed separately in the report with sections on basic mechanisms, governing parameters, common predictive formulas, and concluding remarks.
The report also includes a brief summary on the expected influence of climate change on bridge scour. Larger and more intense rainfalls in the future imply larger flows in the rivers with increased bridge scour as a result.
The report deals only with scour induced by bridges; other types of scour, such as general scour due to longitudinal transport gradients in the river, scour related to secondary flows in river bends, or scour downstream hard bottom, are not discussed. Most of the formulas included to estimate bridge scour are valid for friction material and only a few examples are given that are applicable to cohesive sediment, mainly related to recommended design procedures from different countries. Also, the objective of bridge scour analysis is often to estimate the maximum scour depth, occurring at equilibrium conditions under a certain flow, implying that most of the formulas are valid for such conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLund
PublisherLund University
Number of pages99
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Sept 28

Publication series

ISSN (Electronic)1101-9824

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Water Engineering

Free keywords

  • Bridge scour
  • Contraction scour
  • Pier scour
  • Abutment Scour


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