Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering

, Volume 44, Issue 1, pp 329–339 | Cite as

Breach Discharge Estimates and Surface Velocity Measurements for an Earth Dam Failure Process Due to Overtopping Based on the LS-PIV Method

  • Jie Liu
  • Xing Chuan Zhou
  • Wei Chen
  • Xiao HongEmail author
Research Article - Earth Sciences


Measuring the surface velocity and breach outflow discharge is a challenge in earth dam-break experiments. To solve this problem, large-scale particle image velocimetry (LS-PIV), a non-intrusive approach to measuring surface velocities, was applied in earth dam-break experiments. In this paper, two dam-break experiments were conducted in a large flume, and LS-PIV was used to measure the surface flow velocities of the dam breach. The flume was 50 m long, 4 m wide and 2 m high, and an idealized, non-cohesive, homogeneous earthen dam was placed in the middle of the flume. Three pressure sensors were used to measure the water depth over time. In addition, three high-speed digital cameras and two industrial cameras were used to record the dam breach process. The measured velocities were applied to evaluate the breach outflow discharge. Acceptable agreement was obtained between the discharges estimated with the LS-PIV and water level change methods. The surface velocity field was also obtained, and a dam crest cross section was selected to analyze the process of surface velocity change. Moreover, a convenient and simple formula was introduced to rapidly estimate breach discharge at the dam crest cross section. Finally, based on the Manning formula and surface velocity, the shear stress of the breach bottom was computed and discussed. The findings of this paper validate the accuracy and reliability of the LS-PIV technique for dam-break experiments and suggest that it is a reliable and advantageous technology for dam failure experiments.


LS-PIV Dam-break Surface velocity Outflow discharge Shear stress 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Wang, Z.: A numerical three-dimensional non-cohesive earthen dam breach model. Ph.D. dissertation, Utah State University (2005)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Franca, M.J.; Almeida, A.B.: A computational model of rockfill dam breaching caused by overtopping (RoDaB). J. Hydraul. Res 42(2), 197–206 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Walder, J.S.; Iverson, R.M.: Controls on the breach geometry and flood hydrograph during overtopping of non-cohesive earthen dams. Water Resour. Res. 51(8), 6701–6724 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Creutin, J.D.; Muste, M.; Bradley, A.A.; Kim, S.C.; Kruger, A.: River gauging using PIV technique: proof of concept experiment on the Iowa river. J. Hydrol. 277, 182–94 (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jodeau, M.; Paquier, A.; Hauet, A.; Le Coz, J.; Thollet, F.; Fournier, T.: Effect of a reservoir release on the morphology of a gravel bar: field observations and 2dh modeling. In: RCEM2007 (2007)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Hauet, A.; Creutin, J.D.; Belleudy, P.; Muste, M.; Krajewski, W.: Discharge measurements using Large Scale PIV under varied flow conditions, recent results, accuracy and perspectives. In: Ferreira, A., Leal, C. (eds.) River Flow, pp. 1829–1833 Taylor & Francis/Balkema, The netherlands (2006)Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Fujita, I.; Komura, S.: Application of video image analysis for measurements of river-surface flows. Proc. Hydraul. Eng. 38, 733–738 (1994). (in Japanese)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Soares-Frazao, S.; Zech, Y.: Dam break in channels with 90 degree bend. J. Hydraul. Eng. 128(11), 956–968 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Eaket, J.; Hicks, F.; Peterson, A.: Use of stereoscopy for dam break flow measurement. J. Hydraul. Eng. 131(1), 24–29 (2005)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Aleixo, R.; Soares-Frazao, S.; Zech, Y.: Velocity-field measurements in a dam-break flow using a PTV Voronoi imaging technique. Exp. Fluids 50(6), 1633–1649 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Orendorff, B.; Rennie, C.; Nistor, I.: Using PTV through an embankment breach channel. J. Hydro Environ. Res. 5, 277–287 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Costa, J.E.; Schuster, R.L.: The formation and failure of natural dams. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 100, 1054–1068 (1988)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Cao, Z.; Yue, Z.; Pender, G.: Landslide dam failure and flood hydraulics. Part I: experimental investigation. Nat. Hazards 59, 1003–1019 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Fread, D.L.: National weather service models to forecast dam-breach floods. In: Starosolszky, O., Melder, O.M. (eds.) Hydrology of Disasters, pp. 192–211. James and James, London (1989)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Singh, V.P.: Dam Breach Modeling Technology, pp. 27–40. Kluwer Academic, Norwell (1996)Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Coleman, S.E.; Andrews, D.P.; Grant Webby, M.: Overtopping breaching of noncohesive homogeneous embankments. J. Hydraul. Eng. 128, 829–838 (2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Wahl, T.L.: Uncertainty of predictions of embankment dam breach parameters. J. Hydraul. Eng. 130(5), 389–397 (2004)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Al-Riffai, M.; Nistor, I.; Vanapalli, S.; Orendorff, B.: Overtopping of earth embankments: sensitivity analysis of dam breaching using two numerical models. In: Proceedings of 60th Canadian Geotechnical Conference, Ottawa, ON, Canada, pp. 1213–1220 (2007)Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Cao, Z.; Yue, Z.; Pender, G.: Landslide dam failure and flood hydraulics. Part II: coupled mathematical modeling. Nat. Hazards 59, 1021–1045 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Hakimzadeh, H.; Nourani, V.; Amini, A.B.: Genetic programming simulation of dam breach hydrograph and peak outflow discharge. J. Hydrol. Eng. 19(4), 757–768 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Al-Riffai, M.: Experimental study of breach mechanics in overtopped noncohesive earthen embankments. Ph.D. thesis, University of Ottawa, Ottawa (2014)Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Baba, H.O.; Peth, S.: Large scale soil box test to investigate soil deformation and creep movement on slopes by particle image velocimetry (PIV). Soil Tillage Res. 125, 38–43 (2012)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Christensen, J.L.; Herrick, L.E.: Mississippi river test, vol. 1. Rep. DCP4400/300, Straza Div, AMETEK, El Cajon (1982)Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Kantoush, S.A.; Schleiss, A.J.: LSPIV implementation for environmental flow in various laboratory and field cases. J. Hydro Environ. Res. 5, 263–276 (2011)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Jodeau, M.; Hauet, A.; Paquier, A.; Le Coz, J.; Dramais, G.: Application and evaluation of LS-PIV technique for the monitoring of river surface velocities in high flow conditions. Flow Meas. Instrum. 19, 117–126 (2008)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Rantz, S.E.: Measurement and computation of streamflow: Volume 2. Computation of discharge. Technical report, USGS (1982)Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Wilcock, P.R.; Kondolf, G.M.; Matthews, W.V.G.; Barta, A.F.: Specification of sediment maintenance flows for a large gravel-bed river. Water Resour. Res. 32, 2911–2921 (1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Smart, G.M.: Turbulent velocity profiles and boundary shear stress in gravel bed rivers. J. Hydraul. Eng. 125, 106–116 (1999)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Costa, J.E.; Cheng, R.T.; Haeni, F.P.; Melcher, N.; Spicer, K.R.; Hayes, E.; et al.: Use of radar to monitor stream discharge by noncontact methods. Water Resour. Res. 42, 1–14 (2006)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Nezu, I.; Wolfgang Rodi, M.; ASCE: Open-flow measurements with a laser Doppler anemometer. J. Hydraul. Eng. 112(5), 335 (1986)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Wu, W.: Simplified physically-based model of earthen embankment breaching. J. Hydraul. Eng. 139(8), 837–851 (2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Fu-gang, Xu; Yang, X.-G.; Zhou, J.-W.: Experimental study of the impact factors of natural dam failure introduced by a landslide surge. Environ. Earth Sci. 74, 4075–4087 (2015)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Zhou, J.W.; Xu, W.Y.; Yang, X.G.; Shi, C.; Yang, Z.H.: The 28 October 1996 landslide and analysis of the stability of the current Huashiban slope at the Liangjiaren Hydropower Station, Southwest China. Eng. Geol. 114, 45–56 (2010)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Walder, J.S.; O’Connor, J.E.: Methods for predicting peak discharge of floods caused by failure of natural and constructed earthen dams. Water Resour. Res. 33, 2337–2348 (1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jie Liu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Xing Chuan Zhou
    • 2
  • Wei Chen
    • 2
  • Xiao Hong
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Hydraulics and Mountain River EngineeringSichuan UniversityChengduChina
  2. 2.College of Civil and Building EngineeringPanzhihua CollegePanzhihuaChina

Personalised recommendations