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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENGINEERING TOOLS FOR SAFE, EFFICIENT HYDRAULIC STRUCTURES AND CHANNELS

Location: Hydraulic Engineering Research

Title: Erodibility characteristics of embankment materials

Authors
item Hanson, Gregory
item Wahl, Tony -
item Temple, Darrel -
item Hunt, Sherry
item Tejral, Ronald

Submitted to: State Dam Safety Officials Association Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 1, 2010
Publication Date: September 21, 2010
Citation: Hanson, G.J., Wahl, T.L., Temple, D.M., Hunt, S., Tejral, R.D. 2010. Erodibility characteristics of embankment materials. In: Dam Safety 2010. Proceedings of the Association of State Dam Safety Officials Annual Conference, September 19-23, 2010, Seattle, WA. (CDROM).

Interpretive Summary: Erosion is one of the least reliably defined elements of many water resource projects and yet can have a significant impact relative to human safety and economic cost. Earthen embankments (i.e. dams and levees) are an example of hydraulic projects in which erosion and material erodibility have not been reliably defined in the past and yet influences how these structures perform in flood situations. Recent as well as past embankment failures have helped clarify that material erodibility is an essential geotechnical parameter for predicting embankment performance during overtopping, internal erosion, and breach failure events. There have been several methods, both field and laboratory, developed for characterizing earthen material erodibility including, large and small flumes, channel tests, submerged jets, rotating cylinders, hole erosion tests, slot tests, etc. Based on laboratory and field testing using the jet erosion test (JET), the erodibility of materials have been observed to vary more than one hundred times. Material properties, including how much sand, silt and clay; and placement water content and density have been observed to impact erodibility. This paper describes the JET and the range of erodibility values measured, as well as the implications and importance of these measurements.

Technical Abstract: Erosion is one of the least reliably defined elements of many hydraulic projects. Earthen embankments (i.e. dams and levees) are an example of hydraulic projects in which erosion and material erodibility have not been reliably defined in the past. Recent as well as past embankment failures have helped clarify that material erodibility is an essential geotechnical parameter for predicting embankment performance during overtopping, internal erosion, and breach failure events. There have been several methods, both field and laboratory, developed for characterizing earthen material erodibility including, large and small flumes, channel tests, submerged jets, rotating cylinders, hole erosion tests, slot tests, etc. Based on laboratory and field testing using the jet erosion test (JET), the erodibility of materials have been observed to vary over several orders of magnitude. Material texture and placement characteristics of soil materials have been observed to impact this variability. This paper describes the JET and the range of erodibility values measured, as well as the implications and importance of these measurements.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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