Ultimate lateral pressures exerted on buried pipelines by the initiation of submarine landslides

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Submarine slope instabilities are considered one of the major threats for offshore buried pipelines. This paper presents a novel method to evaluate the ultimate pressure acting on a buried pipeline during the liquefaction of an inclined seabed. Small-scale model tests with pipes buried at three different embedment ratios have been conducted at an enhanced centrifugal acceleration condition. A high-speed, high-resolution imaging system was developed to quantify the soil displacement field of the soil body and to visualize the development of the liquefied zone. The measured lateral pressures were compared with the hybrid approach proposed for the landslide–pipeline interaction in clay-rich material by Randolph and White (2012) and Sahdi et al. (2014). The hybrid approach is proved to be able to predict later pressures induced by the movement of (partially) liquefied sand on buried pipelines. It is found that the fluid inertia (fluid dynamics) component plays an important role when the non-Newtonian Reynolds number >~2 or the shear strain rate > 4.5 × 10−2 sec−1.