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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: Earthen embankment breaching

Authors
item Wu, Weiming -
item Altinakar, Mustafa -
item Al-Riffai, Mahmoud -
item Bergman, Nathaniel -
item Bradford, Scott -
item Cao, Zhixian -
item Chen, Qin -
item Constantinescu, Serban -
item Duan, Jennifer -
item Gee, D -
item Greimann, Blair -
item Hanson, Gregory
item Huddleston, David -
item Hughes, Steven -
item Imran, Jasim -
item Jia, Yafei -
item Jorgeson, Jeffrey -
item Klumpp, Cassie -
item Lai, Yong -
item Langendoen, Eddy
item Moreda, Fekadu -
item Morvan, Herve -
item Pak, Jay -
item Peters, Patrik -
item Sanders, Brett -
item Scott, Steve -
item Soares-Frazao, Sandra -
item Song, Chung -
item Teal, Martin -
item Tsubaki, Ryota -
item Wahl, Tony -
item Weston, David -
item Zech, Yves -
item Zhang, Limin -

Submitted to: Journal of Hydraulic Engineering
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 15, 2011
Publication Date: December 1, 2011
Citation: ASCE/EWRI Task Committee on Dam/Levee Breaching. 2011. Earthen embankment breaching. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering. 137(12):1549-1564.

Interpretive Summary: Dams, levees, dikes, and barriers play very important roles in flood defense. Many are also used for water supply, power generation, transportation, sediment retention, etc. Since these structures can sustain only limited safety levels and are subject to decay, they may fail due to various reasons. Failure of these structures poses significant flood risks to people and property downstream. Therefore, understanding and prediction of embankment failure processes are crucial for water infrastructure management. In the last few decades, a number of laboratory experiments and field investigations have been carried out and many empirical, analytical, and numerical models have been developed to first understand and then simulate the earthen embankment breaching processes. This paper provides an overview of the state of the art of several important issues in this area including; earthen embankment breaching processes, data collection, breach modeling, flood routing, model limitations and uncertainties, and potential future development.

Technical Abstract: A large number of embankment structures, including dams, levees, dikes, and barriers, have been built by humans. These structures play a very important role in flood defense, while many are also used for water supply, power generation, transportation, sediment retention, etc. Since these structures can sustain only limited safety levels and are subject to decay, they may fail due to various triggering mechanisms particularly with a high probability of failure under extreme conditions. Failure of these structures poses significant flood risks to people and property in the inundation area and cause interruption of services provided. Therefore, understanding and prediction of embankment failure processes are crucial for water infrastructure management. Great progress has been made recently to investigate embankment breaching processes through laboratory and field experiments and real-world case studies. A number of parametric simplified, and detailed multidimensional physically-based embankment breach models have been established in the past decades, but the prediction with these models involves significant uncertainties. The biggest limitation of the existing breach models is quantifying erosion rates or erodibility of cohesive soils and sediment entrainment under embankment break/breaching flows. A number of laboratory experiments and field investigations have been carried out and many empirical, analytical, and numerical models have been developed to first understand and then simulate the earthen embankment breaching processes. This paper provides an overview of the state of the art of several important related issues, including the earthen embankment breaching processes, data collection, breach modeling, flood routing, model limitations and uncertainties, and potential future development.

Last Modified: 8/22/2014
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