In this study, we investigated the characteristics of scour at complex bridge piers in close proximity. The experiments were performed under both clear-water and live-bed flow regimes. We compare our results with those for a single complex pier. Further, the performance of existing predictors is discussed. In this study, four typical pier arrangements were adopted, including side-by-side with aligned or 30° skewed flow, staggered, and tandem. The results show that the skew angle for a side-by-side arrangement significantly accelerates the clear-water scour development at all the vertical piles as well as between the piers, and the most scoured pile shifts from the upstream end to the downstream end of the upstream pier flank. The staggered and tandem pier arrangement show significant protection to the downstream pier for both the developing rate and the equilibrium scour depth. When the flow velocity exceeds the threshold for general bed motion, the clear-water scour pattern for all the pier arrangements may be altered significantly due to the upstream sediment supply, the weakened protection effect, and the enhanced flow contraction. The bed-forms migrate via the bridge opening and are damped gradually by the flow, and thus the response of the bed morphology under live-bed conditions is quite unsteady.
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