An evaluation of existent methods for estimation of embankment dam breach parameters

An evaluation of existent methods for estimation of embankment dam breach parameters

Dams are multipurpose structures that are constructed to improve human life. It is built for the production of hydroelectric power, economic improvement, providing water for irrigation and water supply and flood control (Hooshyaripor et al. 2014). Therefore, dams are essential element of infrastructure for any country (Wahl 2010; Razad et al. 2013). There are currently over 45,000 large dams being used throughout the world (DHI Water & Environment, 2009), and 800,000 dams have been constructed up to date (Zagonjolli 2007). Dams are usually classified under two different groups: earthen/rock and gravity. Figure 1 indicates the ratio of four dam types which are constructed in Europe and USA from 1900 to 1969. Most of the dams that are built during this period are earthfill and rockfill which is about 60% of the total number of dams. The second type is gravity dams that represent 25%, whereas the buttress and arch dams form the remaining 15%. Embankment (earth fill and rock fill) dams consist of compacted impermeable material (core) combined with coarse material (earth or rock) to return the water. The huge water volume that is retained in the reservoir can cause a serious flood to the properties and population in the downstream area if a sudden release from the stored water occurs (Razad et al. 2013). Dam failures are very rare, but they do occur. When dams do fail, usually it contributes to the catastrophic consequences. This is often because local communities are not sufficiently prepared. The amount of life or property loss that can occur from a dam breach has increased to a larger number during the past few decades. This is because there has been a lot of development in these areas that would be affected if a dam breach occurs (DHI Water & Environment 2009). Janson (1980) summarized some well known dam failures around the world. He found that about 2000 constructed dams were failed around the world since the twelfth century. There are approximately 200 dams that were failed during the last century which resulted in the death of more than 11,100 people. Johnstown dam in USA, Vajont dam in Italy and Machhu dam in India are the worst three dam failures which nearly caused 6800 of the deaths alone. Table 1 shows the examples of destructive dam failure throughout the world which collected from literature review. Dam breach analysis is an important element in the dam failure assessment. There are many existing approaches for estimation of dam breach parameters. But most of these approaches included many uncertainties which affect the accuracy of their predictions


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