Failures of flood defences (here also named levees) cause major catastrophes in terms of loss of life, and economic damage. By learning the lessons from these disasters we can contribute to the prevention of these catastrophic events in the future. Some major flood events that highlighted the need for extensive research in the field of flood defences are:
Large parts of central Thailand were severely flooded during the year 2011. The Dutch Expertise Network for Flood Protection (ENW) and TU Delft performed a post-flood field investigation in cooperation with Thai partners. The team investigated damages due to the floods and identified a number of failures of dykes and structures in the Lower Chao Phraya river basin and the flood defence systems of industrial estates around Bangkok. The report can be downloaded here.
Japan and the tsunami (2011)
A team of Dutch researchers visited Japan to learn the lessons for coastal risk management of the devastating tsunami of March 2011. During a field visit coastal areas were visited that were destroyed by 10m to 15m high tsunami waves. A seminar was held in Sendai (June 7, 8) to exchange lessons and implications for managing coastal risks from storms, floods and tsunamis.
The seminar was supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). The seminar report can be downloaded here.
New Orleans and hurricane Katrina (2005)
Members of the hydraulic engineering group from TU Delft were asked to do a fact-gathering study by a large insurance company after hurricane Katrina. The aim was an independent collection of data, relevant to the disaster, including hydraulic loads on the system, meteorological conditions and dike breach locations and conditions. Two field investigations were performed early 2006. The group also analysed geotechnical levee failures, building damages and loss of life datasets. The insights in the failures of some of the levees due to piping and instability have resulted in more attention for these mechanisms in the Netherlands.
These cases have shown that despite extensive research on geotechnical failure mechanisms such as instability, piping or overflow- induced breaching, considerable uncertainties in failure modelling and prediction remain. This highlighted the need to improve the reliability of flood defence systems by a better understanding of their failure mechanisms which is covered by the SAFElevee project.
The project objectives are (a) to improve the understanding of (geotechnical) failure mechanisms and breaching of flood defence systems, (b) to enhance reliability analysis and design of safe levee systems, and c) to provide systematically collected datasets for future scientific research.
The project is structured within four work packages. These are as follows:
- Analyses of levee performance data, identification of failure patterns and its most important factors
- Detailed geotechnical and probabilistic analyses and hindcasting of individual levee failures with sufficient date available
- Development of more accurate models and theories for breach initiation and formation by using information from historical breaches ad large-scale field experiments
- Development of an International Levee Performance Database (ILPD) within which failure and performance data on flood defence systems is documented. It will be compiled and used by all researchers in the project, also in collaboration with international academic institutes with the SAFElevee project. Thereby a cooperative knowledge platform on levee safety will be created, which is also a basis for future research and cooperation
SAFElevee contributes to utilization in the field of delta technology in various ways. The project will complement existing approaches for assessing levee failures (e.g. expensive field tests) at relatively low cost. The database developed as part of the project thereby supports Dutch and international projects that aim to develop models and tools for levee design and safety assessment. SAFElevee aims to contribute to more effective and innovative levee reinforcements and large potential cost savings, through a better understanding of performance and failure modes.
To maximize utilization potential, SAFElevee is positioned within a collaborative network of academia, governmental organisations, and private companies. A dissemination workshop with partners on findings on future opportunities will be organized as part of the project. Overall, the SAFElevee project will establish a cooperative data and knowledge platform for governments, researchers and companies in the field of levee safety in a broad range of programs, now and in the future.
Current research team composed of the following members including institutions and private companies:
- PhD’s: Job Kool, Isil Ece Ozer
- PostDoc: Myron van Damme
- Principal investigators: Bas Jonkman, Wim Kanning
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