Some key topographic and material controls on debris flows in Scotland

F. D. Milne (Lead / Corresponding author), M. J. Brown, M. C. R. Davies, G. Cameron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Citations (Scopus)
261 Downloads (Pure)


Debris-flow phenomena were investigated at six study sites across upland Scotland using a combination of laboratory and field-based analyses. In agreement with previous research, higher spatial frequencies of debris-flow paths were measured in areas underlain by coarse-grained intrusive igneous and arenaceous sedimentary bedrocks compared with metamorphic and extrusive igneous geologies. A strong relationship between critical state friction angle of sampled initiation zone soils and spatial frequency of debris-flow paths suggests that this trend is attributable to generally lower shear strengths in sandier hillslope material generated from coarser grained bedrocks. Topographic controls on debris-flow susceptibility are demonstrated by higher numbers of debris-flow paths at sites with persistently steep upper slopes (=30°) and a higher occurrence of potential initiation zones. Strong correlation between debris-flow magnitude and slope length shows that longer mass movements tend to produce higher volumes of material and terminal deposits that travel further at the slope foot. In the cases studied here this reflects greater opportunity for accumulation of fresh material during the transport phase, particularly in the case of long channelized flows. The highest levels of hazard are likely to occur where these topographic and material characteristics conducive to heightened susceptibility and magnitude coincide.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)212-223
Number of pages12
JournalQuarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 28 Oct 2015


  • Debris flow
  • Scotland
  • Landslides

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  • Research Output

    • 7 Citations
    • 3 Article

    Centrifuge modelling of hillslope debris flow initiation

    Milne, F. D., Brown, M., Knappett, J. A. & Davies, M. C. R., 2012, In : CATENA. 92, p. 162-171 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 20 Citations (Scopus)

    A hazardous channelized debris flow in Glen Ogle, Stirlingshire

    Milne, F. D., Brown, M. J. & Werritty, A., 2010, In : Scottish Journal of Geology. 46, 2, p. 181-189 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 6 Citations (Scopus)

    A recent debris flow event and implications for hazard management

    Milne, F. D., Werritty, A., Davies, M. C. R. & Brown, M. J., 2009, In : Quarterly Journal of Engineering Geology and Hydrogeology. 42, 1, p. 51-60 10 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 19 Citations (Scopus)

    Student Theses

    Topographic and material controls on the Scottish debris flow geohazard

    Author: Milne, F. D., 2008

    Supervisor: Davies, M. (Supervisor), Werritty, A. (Supervisor) & Brown, M. (Supervisor)

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


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