Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering


John D. Rice


Earthen dams and levees create high gradients and increased hydraulic pressures in the underlying soil, which can lead to erosion and other challenges. Karst formations and other defects such as cracks in the foundation and/or abutments can lead to failure mechanisms such as internal erosion. Generally these voids or cracks are filled with soil, but due to the increased pressures and gradients that dams and levees create, the original soil is pushed out, thus creating a void that acts as a conduit for more soil to follow. Different soils will erode at different rates and some even create a natural filter, preventing further erosion from occurring, but due to these increased gradients and the cyclic changes that can occur throughout the seasons these filters can be broken down, allowing for erosion to continue and potentially lead to complete failure of the structure unless certain reparatory measures are taken. In the lab we have simulated different conditions that exist in the field and the results of testing a variety of soils can be found in this paper.