Dam-break wave propagation in a debris flood event is strongly influenced by accumulated reservoir-bound sediment and downstream obstacles. For instance, the Brumadinho dam disaster in Brazil in 2019 released 12 × 106 m3 of mud and iron tailings and inflicted 270 casualties. The present work was motivated by the apparent lack of experimental or numerical studies on silted-up reservoir dam-breaks with downstream semi-circular obstacles. Accordingly, 24 dam-break scenarios with different reservoir sediment depths and with or without obstacles were observed experimentally and verified numerically. Multiphase flood waves were filmed, and sediment depths, water levels, and values of front wave celerity were measured to improve our scientific understanding of shock wave propagation over an abruptly changing topography. Original data generated in this study is available online in the public repository and may be used for practical purposes. The strength of OpenFOAM software in estimating such a complex phenomenon was assessed using two approaches: volume of fluid (VOF) and Eulerian. An acceptable agreement was attained between numerical and experimental records (errors ranged from 1 to 13.6%), with the Eulerian outperforming the VOF method in estimating both sediment depth and water level profiles. This difference was most notable when more than half of the reservoir depth was initially filled by sediment (≥0.15 m), particularly in bumpy bed scenarios.
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