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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: ENGINEERING TOOLS FOR SAFE, EFFICIENT HYDRAULIC STRUCTURES AND CHANNELS Title: Improving the accuracy of breach modelling: why are we not progressing faster?

Authors
item Morris, Mark - HR WALLINGFORD, UK
item Hanson, Gregory
item Hassan, Mohamed - HT WALLINGFORD, UK

Submitted to: Journal of Flood Risk Management
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 26, 2008
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
Citation: Morris, M., Hanson, G.J., Hassan, M. 2008. Improving the accuracy of breach modelling: Why are we not progressing faster? Journal of Flood Risk Management. 1(3):150-161.

Interpretive Summary: Flood risk assessment and management often requires prediction of the potential for a levee or dam to fail in order to provide information to aid in emergency planning, evacuation, or repair strategies. Prediction of levee or dam failure is an area where research has been undertaken for many decades in an attempt to provide more reliable models and predictions. However, despite these efforts progress has been slow and sometimes appears redundant. This prompts the obvious question as to why our ability to predict breach initiation and growth has not progressed further over this period. Why are so many studies identifying similar issues and, in effect, 'reinventing the wheel'? With a program of continued research into breach initiation and growth in both Europe, the US, and other parts of the World due to continued pressure to improve tools and techniques following events such as those seen at New Orleans in August 2005, this paper considers this question of apparent slow progress and offers some suggestions as to why this may have occurred and what direction might prove more effective.

Technical Abstract: Flood risk assessment and management often requires the prediction of potential breaching of a flood defense embankment or dam in order to either assess potential impacts or to provide information to assist emergency planning, evacuation or repair strategies. There are many different aspects of the overall breaching process which are more, or less, relevant to the wide range of potential end users of such information. Consequently, the prediction of breach growth is an area where research has been undertaken for many decades in an attempt to provide more reliable models and predictions. However, despite many initiatives providing observations and recommendations as to processes observed and how research might progress, more detailed literature searches will often uncover conclusions and observations noted a decade or two or three earlier that are similar to those being made today. In particular, observations relating to material type, water content and compaction are relevant here. This prompts the obvious question as to why our ability to predict breach initiation and growth has not progressed further over this period. Why are so many studies identifying similar issues and, in effect, 'reinventing the wheel'? With a program of research into breach initiation and growth under the EC FLOODsite Project and continued pressure to improve tools and techniques following events such as those seen at New Orleans in August 2005, this paper considers this question of apparent slow progress and offers some suggestions as to why this may have occurred and what direction might prove more effective in the future.

Last Modified: 10/24/2014
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