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Tag: Internal erosion
  • Backward Erosion Testing: Magnolia Levee

    Abstract: Using a confined flume device, an experimental study investigated the critical horizontal gradient of soils obtained from a site identified as potentially vulnerable to backward erosion piping (BEP). Tests were conducted on glacial outwash material obtained from a sand and gravel quarry in the vicinity of Magnolia Levee in the community of Magnolia, OH. The two bulk samples collected from the quarry had similar grain-size distributions, grain roundness, and depositional environments as the foundation materials beneath the levee. Samples were prepared at various densities and subjected to gradual increases of flow in a wooden flume with an acrylic top until BEP was observed. The critical average horizontal gradient ranged from 0.21 to 0.30 for a bulk sample with a coefficient of uniformity of 1.6, while tests conducted on a bulk sample with a coefficient of uniformity of 2.5 yielded critical average horizontal gradients of 0.31 to 0.36. The critical average gradients measured during these tests compared favorably to values in the literature after applying adjustments according to Schmertmann’s method.
  • Backward Erosion Progression Rates from Small-Scale Flume Tests

    Abstract: Backward erosion piping (BEP) is an internal erosion mechanism by which erosion channels progress upstream, typically through cohesionless or highly erodible foundation materials of dams and levees. As one of the primary causes of embankment failures, usually during high pool events, the probability of BEP-induced failure is commonly evaluated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for existing dams and levees. In current practice, BEP failure probability is quantitatively assessed assuming steady state conditions with qualitative adjustments for temporal aspects of the process. In cases with short-term hydraulic loads, the progression rate of the erosion pipe may control the failure probability such that more quantitative treatment of the temporal development of erosion is necessary to arrive at meaningful probabilities of failure. This report builds upon the current state of the practice by investigating BEP progression rates through a series of laboratory experiments. BEP progression rates were measured for nine uniform sands in a series of 55 small-scale flume tests. Results indicate that the pipe progression rates are proportional to the seepage velocity and can be predicted using equations recently proposed in the literature.
  • Study of Sand Boil Development at Kaskaskia Island, IL, Middle Mississippi River Valley

    Abstract: Mississippi River flooding in 2013 and 2016 caused severe underseepage and development of several medium to large high-energy sand boils behind the landside levee toe at Kaskaskia Island, IL. This levee system is located between St. Louis and Cape Girardeau, MO, and is part of the Kaskaskia Island Drainage and Levee District on the Middle Mississippi River. Flooding on the Mississippi River in 2013 and 2016 was below the design flowline for this levee. This report documents a case history study into the causes of seepage, piping, and sand boil development at a levee reach at Kaskaskia. Site-specific geotechnical data were collected and evaluated to determine the causes for poor performance at the studied levee reach locations. Data collected involved design documents, geologic and geotechnical borings, closely spaced cone-penetrometer tests (CPTs), electrical resistivity surveys, laboratory soil testing of sand boil ejecta, CPT samples from targeted stratigraphic horizons in the subsurface, and both piezometer and river-stage data. These data indicate sand boils present within this levee reach involved a chronic seepage condition that became progressively worse through time. This condition was directly related to the underlying site geology, namely the top stratum thickness and the depositional environment in this levee reach.