Although Sabo dams are an efficient method for river and basin management, traditional Sabo dams have a great impact on ecology and landscape. Moreover, such dams are hit and often damaged by great impulsive force when they block the debris flow. Therefore, alternative shapes for Sabo dam deserve thorough investigation. In this investigation, a curved dam was designed by changing the upstream-dam-surface geometric shape to reduce the impulsive force of the debris flow, with enhanced stability and reduced concrete mass being the anticipated outcomes. In this study, the flume and laboratory facilities simulated the impulsive force of the debris flow to the Sabo dams. Three geometric forms, including vertical, slanted and curved Sabo dams, were used to determine the impulsive force. Impulsive force theories of the debris flow were derived from the momentum equation and the Bernoulli equation. In these, the impulsive force was balanced by the friction force of the Sabo dam and the opposite force of the load cell behind the dam as it was hit by the debris flow. Positive correlations were found when comparing the experimental data with the theoretical results. These findings suggest that our impulsive force theory has predictive validity with regard to the experimental data. The results from both theory and experimental data clearly show that curved dams were sustained less force than the other dams under the same debris flow. This comparison demonstrates the importance of curved geometry for a well-designed Sabo dam.
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