Document Type

Article - Open Access

Publication Title

19th Fall Workshop on Computational Geometry

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

The New Orleans area levee failures during Hurricane Katrina drew media attention to an important prob-lem in Civil Engineering. The emphasis of our work is on earthen levees, dams, and embankments. A ma-jor cause of failures of such structures is overtopping, which causes erosion to the point of breaching the crest. Our research focuses on simulating the initial small-scale features of erosion – the formation of rills and gullies on the embankment. We wish to study and eventually be able to simulate the way earthen embankments erode, with respect to the formation of these rills and gullies. Validation of computer simu-lations is the primary focus of our research. We will utilize RPI's geotechnical centrifuge to perform high-g erosion experiments on small-scale models to pre-dict and validate the model for full scale simulations. 2 Review of Literature Erosion Models and Erodibility A variety of ex-isting erosion models calculate the overall soil loss during the overtopping of an earthen embankment. For example, Wang and Kahawita present a two-dimensional mathematical model of erosion of the profile of an earthen embankment during overtopping (Wang and Kahawita 2003). The "erodibility" of soil is generally defined as the ratio of the rate the soil erodes to the velocity of the water causing the erosion. In his work, Jean-Louis Briaud defines erodibility as a function of hydraulic shear stress, or pull of the water on the soil and presents measurements of soil samples collected from many of the affected earthen levees in the New Orleans area (Briaud, Chen, Govindasamy, and Storesund 2008). Erosion Simulations Kristof et al., present an ero-sion simulation using smoothed particle hydrodynam-ics (SPH). The soil, water, and soil-water boundaries are represented by particles – the soil and water parti-cles have mass and velocity while the boundary parti-cles are designed solely for the two phases to interact (Kristof, Benes, Krivanek, and St'ava 2009).