The science behind scour at bridge foundations: a review

Alonso Pizarro, Salvatore Manfreda, Enrico Tubaldi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)
39 Downloads (Pure)


Foundation scour is among the main causes of bridge collapse worldwide, resulting in significant direct and indirect losses. A vast amount of research has been carried out during the last decades on the physics and modelling of this phenomenon. The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to provide an up-to-date, comprehensive, and holistic literature review of the problem of scour at bridge foundations, with a focus on the following topics: (i) sediment particle motion; (ii) physical modelling and controlling dimensionless scour parameters; (iii) scour estimates encompassing empirical models, numerical frameworks, data-driven methods, and non-deterministic approaches; (iv) bridge scour monitoring including successful examples of case studies; (v) current approach for assessment and design of bridges against scour; and, (vi) research needs and future avenues.
Original languageEnglish
Article number374
Number of pages26
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2020


  • scour
  • bridge foundations
  • natural hazards
  • floods


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