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Dam Breaks

Dam Breaks

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Earthquakes, floods, landslides, and volcanic activity have resulted in catastrophic
dam failures and devastating floods. To know the effects of a dam break, we have to know how the resulting flood will propagate.
Earthquakes, floods, landslides, and volcanic activity have resulted in catastrophic
dam failures and devastating floods. To know the effects of a dam break, we have to know how the resulting flood will propagate.

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Published by: Xose Manuel Carreira Rodriguez on Jul 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Dam-breaks and consequences. X M Carreira25
August 2012 Page 1 of 12
DAM BREAKS AND CONSEQUENCESXosé Manuel Carreira Rodríguez (
Hydraulic flow models2.1. 1D numerical modelling2.2. 2D CFD techniques3.
Risk assesment4.
Examples4.1. Historic dam failures4.2. A recent case: the Aznalcóllar case5.
Concluding remarks6.
The possibility of a devastating flood resulting from dam failure is a concern wherever thesestructures exist. Earthquakes, floods, landslides, and volcanic activity have resulted in catastrophicdam failures in a variety of environments.From 1946 to 1955, a total of 12 major dam failures were recorded and during the same period of time more than 2,000 dams were constructed worldwide. From years 1956 to 1965, a record of 24failures and more than 2,500 new dams were constructed during the same period of time.[JANSEN88].[JOHNILLES02] summarized 300 dam failures throughout the world. Dam failure can be primarilyattributed to a number of major key factors including earthquake, differential settlement, seepage,overtopping, dam structure deterioration, rockslide, poor construction and sabotage [RICO08].
To know the effects of a dam break, we have to know how dams may break and how a flood willpropagate. The damage parameter (flow velocity times water depth) deriving from a dam break flood proved to be a useful tool for estimating consequences of a dam failure (property damage andloss of life) as well as for emergency response planning.Prior to the preparation of any emergency response plan, the dam operator has to carry out a risk assessment study which provide information on the covered area:- the near safety zone, flooded in less than 15 minutes after the dam-break.- the remote area concerned by the submersion wave or the limit at which there is no significantdanger for the populations.
Dam-breaks and consequences. X M Carreira25
August 2012 Page 2 of 12Numerical and physical models are used to answer these questions but the development of a dambreak is a complicated extreme problem that contains a lot of uncertainties.
Even though, the probability of dam failure can be extremely low, but its occurrences can implycatastrophic consequences downstream, including loss of human lives, properties, natural resourcesand so on. Therefore, significant predictive data on hypothetical flood events such as flood flows,flow velocities, depths and flood wave arrival times at specific locations downstream of the dambecome some of the most important pieces of information for disaster preparedness such as for theformulation of Emergency Response Plan (ERP) guidelines [TURA02].General international practices on dam safety would include procedures that suit practicalmanagement of the dam conditions such as sending early warning and notification messages of emergency situation to the authorities, as well as information on inundation of critical areas foraction in case of emergency. Generally, dam break analysis aims at predicting downstream hazardpotential systematically in equitable approaches. Numerical modelling process simulations can becarried out based on the topography of a catchment area using an appropriate grid size of approximately 200 m. Generally, a scenario discharge may be assumed in the simulation and floodaffected areas may be predicted over a distance of 25 km downstream of the dam, and 1 to 2 km inwidth [BOSS99].Currently, there are a number of dam break simulation models widely used by researchers andconsultants such as the national weather service dam break forecasting, Mike-21 (Danish Hydraulic Institute), HEC-HMS/HEC-RAS flood hydrograph (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers), BOSS DAMBRK hydrodynamic flood routing and soil conservation service (SCS)TR#66 uniform dam failure hydrograph. Downstream hazards may include potential loss of humanlives, properties (such as residences, commercial buildings, industrial facilities, croplands andpasturelands), infrastructures and utilities located downstream of the dam [TURA02].The 1D modelling for the dam break hazard analyses is based on an implicit finite differencescheme. The cross-sections used in the model can be taken either from a GIS terrain model or theycan be on-site measured cross-sections.
In the case of very complicated topography, the use of a 2-dimensional model seems to be morereasonable than the use of a 1D model. One-dimensional model needs a lot of experience since thecross-sections have to be put at the right locations. The use of a 2-dimensional models is morestraightforward.The impact flow on a vertical wall resulting from a dam break problem can be simulated using aNavier-Stokes (NS) solver. The NS solver uses an Eulerian Finite Volume Method (FVM) alongwith a volume of fluid (VOF) scheme for phase interface capturing. One of the most commonComputational fluid dynamics (CFD) packages for simulations of free surface problems is
Dam-breaks and consequences. X M Carreira25
August 2012 Page 3 of 12FLUENT [FLUENT].Results show favorable agreement with experiments before water impact on the wall. However,both impact pressure and free surface elevations after the impact depart from the experimentssignificantly. Hence the code is assessed to be good only for qualitative studies.In particular, we have examined the classical dam break problem and subsequent water impact on aplane vertical wall. The FLUENT results for the initial stages of the problem closelyagreed with other numerical techniques and experimental results.However, there was some disagreement in water tip location between numerical results andexperiments. This is perhaps due to the imperfect initial conditions and some physical effectsnot numerically modeled.The water impact pressure was numerically measured and compared with experiments. Althoughthe first peak agrees with the experimental measurements of [ZHOU99], the second peak waslargely underestimated. This suggests that FLUENT is acceptable for qualitative studies only. Ingeneral, the problem after the initial impact could not be modeled with the desired accuracy.Further research is needed to strengthen the features of the software which are not suited for thesetypes of applications. Free-surface reconstruction (complex geometry) including fluid discontinuityand the treatment of entrained air are some of the areas that require furtherinvestigations.
With careful modelling and accurate data the results of different modelling approaches may be relativelyclose each other. However, there is a lot of uncertainties in the modelling and specially in the one-dimensional flow modelling where the user of the model can have a significant effect on the results byselecting the locations of cross-sections carelessly.
Risk assessment is the process of deciding whether existing risks are tolerable and present risk control measures are adequate and if not, whether alternative risk control measures arerequired. Risk assessment incorporates, as inputs, the outputs of the risk analysis and risk evaluation phases. Risk assessment involves judgements on the taking of risk and all partiesmust recognize that the adverse consequences might materialize and owners will be requiredto deal effectively with the consequences of a dam failure.In 1988 the U.S. Department of the Interior [USDI98] classified downstream hazards in terms of two major potential adverse impacts on:1)
the number of human lives in jeopardy and2)
economic losses (such as properties, infrastructures, outstanding natural resources and otherdevelopments) downstream of the dam.Based on Downstream Hazard Classification Guidelines published by USDI, downstream hazardsmay further be classified as “low” for zero live loss associated with minimal economic loss; as

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