Coupled flow-seepage-elastoplastic modeling for competition mechanism between lateral instability and tunnel erosion of a submarine pipeline

Yumin Shi, Fuping Gao, Ning Wang, Zhenyu Yin

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


The instability of a partially embedded pipeline under ocean currents involves complex fluid–pipe–soil interactions, which may induce two typical instability modes; i.e., the lateral instability of the pipe and the tunnel erosion of the underlying soil. In previous studies, such two instability modes were widely investigated, but separately. To reveal the competition mechanism between the lateral instability and the tunnel erosion, a coupled flow-seepage–elastoplastic modeling approach was proposed that could realize the synchronous simulation of the pipe hydrodynamics, the seepage flow, and elastoplastic behavior of the seabed soil beneath the pipe. The coupling algorithm was provided for flow-seepage–elastoplastic simulations. The proposed model was verified through experimental and numerical results. Based on the instability criteria for the lateral instability and tunnel erosion, the two instability modes and their corresponding critical flow velocities could be determined. The instability envelope for the flow–pipe–soil interaction was established eventually, and could be described by three parameters; i.e., the critical flow velocity (Ucr ), the embedment-to-diameter ratio (e/D), and the non-dimensional submerged weight of the pipe (G). There existed a transition line on the envelope when switching from one instability mode to the other. If the flow velocity of ocean currents gets beyond the instability envelope, either tunnel erosion or lateral instability could be triggered. With increasing e/D or concurrently decreasing G, the lateral instability was more prone to being triggered than the tunnel erosion. The present analyses may provide a physical insight into the dual-mode competition mechanism for the current-induced instability of submarine pipelines.

Original languageEnglish
Article number889
JournalJournal of Marine Science and Engineering
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


  • Competition mechanism
  • Flow-seepage–elastoplastic modeling
  • On-bottom stability
  • Pipe–soil interaction
  • Submarine pipeline

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering


Dive into the research topics of 'Coupled flow-seepage-elastoplastic modeling for competition mechanism between lateral instability and tunnel erosion of a submarine pipeline'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this