Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Blake P. Tullis


A hydraulically undersized control structure could result in water overtopping a dam or channel banks. To increase hydraulic capacity and reduce flooding risk, nonlinear spillways are frequently replacing linear weirs. This study investigates four subjects to further knowledge for two types of nonlinear weir, the piano key and labyrinth. Weir submergence is a condition when the downstream water level of a weir exceeds the weir crest elevation, and can influence the head-discharge relationship of the structure. The effects of submergence on laboratory-scale piano key weir head-discharge relationships were evaluated experimentally and compared to published submergence data for linear and labyrinth weirs. For relatively low levels of submergence, the piano key weir requires less upstream head relative to the labyrinth weir (<6%). This increase in efficiency was reversed at higher levels. Staged labyrinth weirs feature multiple weir segments with different crest elevations, which confine base flows and/or satisfy downstream discharge requirements. Head-discharge relationships for various laboratory-scale staged labyrinth weir configurations were established. The accuracy of a head-discharge predictive technique based upon superposition and traditional labyrinth weir empirical data was evaluated, and found to be generally within ±5%. The influence of linear, labyrinth, and staged labyrinth weir head-discharge characteristics on the outflow hydrograph behavior was evaluated by numerically routing various flood discharges through a fictitious reservoir; peak outflow, maximum water surface elevation, and required detention volume data are presented for each weir alternative. A staged labyrinth weir can be an effective alternative for decreasing the peak outflow hydrograph for frequent events, while increasing discharge for higher return period storm events. Approach flow perpendicular to the labyrinth weir centerline axis may not be possible in all situations. The head-discharge characteristics of a laboratory-scale labyrinth weir were evaluated with three different approach flow angles (0°, 15°, and 45°). For approach flow angles up to 15°, no measurable loss in discharge efficiency occurred. The discharge efficiency reduced as much as 11% for the 45° approach angle case. While all data presented are specific to the weir configurations and geometries tested, these data can be beneficial to the general understanding of nonlinear weirs.