Articles | Volume 10, issue 2
Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 553–569, 2017
Geosci. Model Dev., 10, 553–569, 2017

Model description paper 06 Feb 2017

Model description paper | 06 Feb 2017

r.avaflow v1, an advanced open-source computational framework for the propagation and interaction of two-phase mass flows

Martin Mergili1,2, Jan-Thomas Fischer3, Julia Krenn1,4, and Shiva P. Pudasaini5 Martin Mergili et al.
  • 1Institute of Applied Geology, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU), Peter-Jordan-Straße 70, 1190 Vienna, Austria
  • 2Geomorphological Systems and Risk Research, Department of Geography and Regional Research, University of Vienna, Universitätsstraße 7, 1190 Vienna, Austria
  • 3Department of Natural Hazards, Austrian Research Centre for Forests (BFW), Rennweg 1, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
  • 4Group Roads, Provincial Government of Lower Austria, Landhausplatz 1/17, 3109 St. Pölten, Austria
  • 5Department of Geophysics, University of Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 176, 53115 Bonn, Germany

Abstract. r.avaflow represents an innovative open-source computational tool for routing rapid mass flows, avalanches, or process chains from a defined release area down an arbitrary topography to a deposition area. In contrast to most existing computational tools, r.avaflow (i) employs a two-phase, interacting solid and fluid mixture model (Pudasaini, 2012); (ii) is suitable for modelling more or less complex process chains and interactions; (iii) explicitly considers both entrainment and stopping with deposition, i.e. the change of the basal topography; (iv) allows for the definition of multiple release masses, and/or hydrographs; and (v) serves with built-in functionalities for validation, parameter optimization, and sensitivity analysis. r.avaflow is freely available as a raster module of the GRASS GIS software, employing the programming languages Python and C along with the statistical software R. We exemplify the functionalities of r.avaflow by means of two sets of computational experiments: (1) generic process chains consisting in bulk mass and hydrograph release into a reservoir with entrainment of the dam and impact downstream; (2) the prehistoric Acheron rock avalanche, New Zealand. The simulation results are generally plausible for (1) and, after the optimization of two key parameters, reasonably in line with the corresponding observations for (2). However, we identify some potential to enhance the analytic and numerical concepts. Further, thorough parameter studies will be necessary in order to make r.avaflow fit for reliable forward simulations of possible future mass flow events.

Short summary
r.avaflow represents a GIS-based, multi-functional open-source tool for the simulation of debris flows, rock avalanches, snow avalanches, or two-phase (solid and fluid) process chains. It further facilitates parameter studies and validation of the simulation results against observed patterns. r.avaflow shall inform strategies to reduce the risks related to the interaction of mass flow processes with society.