WIT Press

Analyzing The Impacts Of Explosions On Dams And Levees


Free (open access)





Page Range

307 - 318




642 kb

Paper DOI



WIT Press


J. Parkes, H. Kelly, G. Munfakh & S. Choi


Infrastructure safety and security is a growing area of engineering analysis. Dams and levees need to be considered as part of these critical infrastructure assessments. In the United States alone, there are over 80,000 dams and 100,000 miles of levees. Over 26,000 of these dams are classified as high or significant hazard. A study has recently been undertaken with the goal of expanding blast security assessments for modeling the impacts of explosions to include analysis of embankment dams and levees. Specific aims of the study include developing reasonably accurate models to assess localized, shallow impacts and developing methods to assess global stability impacts. Assessing these structures requires a unique combination of understating of blast impacts, soil modelling under high energy dynamic loading, embankment dam failure modes, and conventional geotechnical slope stability. A trial dam section was developed and possible failure mechanisms due to blast impacts were determined. Published numerical soil models, developed and validated for land mine analyses, were evaluated with regard to typical soil properties of embankment dam materials. An applicable soil model was selected, and the numerical trial dam model was analysed for an explosion on the crest. The results were assessed using conventional geotechnical engineering software and engineering judgment. A step-by-step procedure for assessing the impacts of explosions on embankment dams has been developed, and a simplified chart for assessing localized breach potential have been developed. Areas for further study and validation are also identified. The work combines research from military applications with state-of-the-art infrastructure security analyses and conventional geotechnical engineering evaluations. Keywords: dam and levee security, explosions, blast impacts, embankments, simplified charts.


dam and levee security, explosions, blast impacts, embankments, simplified charts