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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Overview of Dam Gully Erosion Research

Authors
item Hanson, Gregory
item Temple, Darrel
item Robinson, Kerry - USDA-NRCS
item Cook, Kevin

Submitted to: Workshop Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: April 15, 2004
Publication Date: May 1, 2004
Citation: Hanson, G.J., Temple, D.M., Robinson, K.M., Cook, K.R. 2004. Overview of dam gully erosion research. 3rd International Symposium on Gully Erosion, April 28-May 1, 2004, Oxford, Mississippi. p. 259-277. 2004 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: Traditionally gully erosion has been identified with the dissection of the landscape in agricultural settings, but it is also recognized as a prevalent erosion feature in earthen dam auxiliary spillways and embankments. Flows through earthen spillways and over dam embankments, due to large rainfall events, have the potential to erode and potentially breach the dam or spillway and result in catastrophic releases from the reservoir. The gully erosion process in an earthen spillway or on an embankment can be characterized by stages of initiation, development, and migration of a headcut. A headcut is defined as a near vertical drop at the upstream end of a gully. The rate of headcut migration is important in determining the breach potential of an earthen spillway and dam embankment. A research program is being conducted to examine the gully erosion processes of cohesive soils in spillways and embankments. This paper describes: 1) the unique test facilities constructed to examine the dominant factors affecting the erosion of earthen spillways and embankments; 2) the observations of the erosion processes and results to date; and 3) the predictive relationships that have been and are being developed for dam gully erosion research at the ARS laboratory in Stillwater, OK.

Technical Abstract: Traditionally gully erosion has been identified with the dissection of the landscape in agricultural settings, but it is also recognized as a prevalent erosion feature in earthen dam auxiliary spillways and embankments. Flows through earthen spillways and over dam embankments, due to large rainfall events, have the potential to erode and potentially breach the dam or spillway and result in catastrophic releases from the reservoir. The gully erosion process in an earthen spillway or on an embankment is a three-phase process that can be characterized by stages of initiation, development, and migration of a headcut. A headcut is defined as a near vertical drop at the upstream end of a gully. The rate of headcut migration is important in determining the breach potential of an earthen spillway and dam embankment. A research program is being conducted to examine the gully erosion processes of cohesive soils in spillways and embankments. This paper describes: 1) the unique test facilities constructed to examine the dominant factors affecting the erosion of earthen spillways and embankments; 2) the observations of the erosion processes and results to date; and 3) the predictive relationships that have been and are being developed for dam gully erosion research at the ARS laboratory in Stillwater, OK.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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