As a typical representative of red beds, the softening and disintegration of red sandstone when it encounters water is an important cause of initiated engineering disasters. However, research on the softening of this kind of rock has mainly focused on the still water–rock interaction. There is still a lack of quantitative analysis and a mechanistic explanation for the basic experimental study of dynamic water–rock interactions. Therefore, based on the independently developed multifunctional open channel hydraulic test equipment, the still water was used as the reference by designing the saturation test of red sandstone under two typical flow patterns—laminar flow and turbulent flow—and combined with a three-dimensional numerical simulation; specifically, the chemical, physical and mechanical effects of different flow patterns on the softening of red sandstone are discussed, and the mechanism of the influence of different flow patterns on the softening of red sandstone was further revealed. The results show that under different flow patterns, as the flow of water increased, the alkalinity of the circulating solution became stronger, the speed of stabilization of the ion concentration became faster, the development of the microscopic structure of the corresponding rock became higher and the decrease in mechanical strength became greater. The flow state affects the processes of rock softening and breaking by acting on the rock from the three aspects of chemistry, physics and mechanics. The study makes up for the deficiency of the quantitative analysis index of rock softening under dynamic water conditions and further improves the influence mechanism of different flow patterns on soft rock softening in red beds under dynamic water conditions. This research also provides a specific method for the protection of estuarine and coastal bank slopes with rich red-bed soft rock dissection under different flow patterns.
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