Officine Maccaferri


Strategies to decrease the damage and risk from mudslides


Our debris flow structures and barriers are designed to offer an improved safety level

Uncontrolled mud flows often threaten infrastructure located in the basins of mountain rivers. Mud/rock flows, landslides and rockfalls are sudden phenomena which it is impossible to forecast in the short term. The resulting debris flows have great destructive power as the stream velocity can average 2–4 m/s. The cause of these phenomena can be both intense rainfalls and minor earthquakes. Human activities can also be a contributing factor associated with changes in slope topography during construction.

The threat of mudslides affects the entire surrounding ecosystem causing damage and disruption to local infrastructure. Great attention should be paid in the vicinity of major manufacturing facilities where industrial waste is generated and may lead to a risk of environmental disaster in the event of debris flows.

A mudflow is a very rapid surging flow and it is therefore important to identify and target solutions at different zones to reduce the intensity of debris formation.

At Maccaferri, we design engineering protection of infrastructure facilities, assessing the repetition of a certain event in time. This method ensures the reliability and durability of the implemented solutions. Based on the initial data, we evaluate possible landslides and select the engineering structures that can deliver the required safety level. The efficiency of mud flow protection is based on field tests and the experience gained in the use of structures on other sites.

In order to protect civil and industrial facilities in the highlands, we use debris flow structures and debris flow barriers,

Debris flow structures

Debris flow structures are transverse hydroengineering constructions that regulate dynamic water flows carrying solid particles and sediments. Thus, they change the hydrological regime of the watercourse and reduce its destructive potential by reducing the longitudinal slope.

Gabions and Reno Mattresses are used on slopes to prevent the formation of debris flows and control them if they occur. Similar to watercourse dams, gabion constructions serve as long-term solutions to control mud flows.

Gabion mudflow flumes slow down and partially restrain a mudstone flow, using a system of chutes to reduce the energy downstream. Our specialists at Maccaferri’s Design Department elaborate stepped, sloped and vertical mud flow flumes based on the flow velocity calculated in a specialized software package MAC.R.A. 2.

Debris flow barriers

An alternative solution involves the installation of flexible debris flow barriers in riverbeds in the areas where debris flow can occur, when flow velocity is still low and it has not yet reached infrastructure facilities.

To protect against mud flow streams, we manufacture barriers intended to retain a flow with energy above 3,000 kJ.

Owing to the design of mesh debris flow barriers, the 4-point ring mesh and double-twist mesh act as the main restraint to the flow, containing larger deposits whilst allowing smaller particles and water to pass through the barrier. The barrier progressively absorbs the pressure of the debris flow and loads from the mesh are transferred into the supporting structures. The hydrostatic pressure within the flow rapidly dissipates once the debris flow has been arrested, leaving the volume of debris within the barrier.

Debris flow barriers are set in natural gullies, channels or slope hollows, i.e. debris flumes. The barriers can be adapted for an extremely prompt installation on collapsing slopes and in riverbeds with complex morphology. The structure is designed based on the scope of the project, expected amount of debris and expected flow volume.

The structure of flexible debris flow barriers was successfully tested and complies with the international quality standards UNI EN ISO 9001 and ETA-11/0370. The barriers are manufactured at Maccaferri’s factory in Kurgan marked as CTR.

Our Technical Department is eager to assist you in the development of mud flow protection measures.

Contact us for technical advice on your projects.

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