Characterization of the failure of rockfill dams by overtopping and development of criteria to evaluate the security of the dam and affected area during a flood.

Nowadays, the new hydrological guidelines lead to design flows substantially higher than those used in the past in the design of dams. Additionally, our society is today more aware of the risks associated with a dam failure and require a detailed analysis of the potential consequences of such an event including the evaluation of the failure hydrograph and floodable areas and the implementation of emergency plans. 

Embankment dams present numerous advantages regarding to other typologies and are the most common constructed worldwide. Nevertheless, they are very vulnerable to overtopping events. The purpose of this research project was to study the initial phase of the failure of rockfill dams, in particular the failure processes of the downstream shoulder related to overtopping.

This project was performed by the Dam Safety Research Group (SERPA) in conjunction with the Center for Hydrographic Studies of CEDEX and the International Center for Numerical Methods in Engineering (CIMNE). Physical models of rockfill dams were tested in the Laboratory of Hydraulics of the ETSI de Caminos, Canales y Puertos of the Technical University of Madrid and in CEDEX. The numerical modelling was carried out by CIMNE.



This R&D project has been funded by: