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Tag: Backward erosion piping
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  • 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.
  • Automated Characterization of Ridge-Swale Patterns Along the Mississippi River

    Abstract: The orientation of constructed levee embankments relative to alluvial swales is a useful measure for identifying regions susceptible to backward erosion piping (BEP). This research was conducted to create an automated, efficient process to classify patterns and orientations of swales within the Lower Mississippi Valley (LMV) to support levee risk assessments. Two machine learning algorithms are used to train the classification models: a convolutional neural network and a U-net. The resulting workflow can identify linear topographic features but is unable to reliably differentiate swales from other features, such as the levee structure and riverbanks. Further tuning of training data or manual identification of regions of interest could yield significantly better results. The workflow also provides an orientation to each linear feature to support subsequent analyses of position relative to levee alignments. While the individual models fall short of immediate applicability, the procedure provides a feasible, automated scheme to assist in swale classification and characterization within mature alluvial valley systems similar to LMV.