Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

David Bowles


David Bowles


"Estimating Life Loss for Dam Safety Risk Assessment" explores the need for a new life-loss model in dam safety risk assessment, historical foundations on which that model can be built, and issues that are critical for a successful life-loss model to address. After critiquing existing life-loss models, the work presents a summary of historical insights that were derived by characterizing flood events on the level of subpopulations at risk, using nearly l 00 carefully defined variables. Building upon both conceptual and historical insights, the work culminates by presenting the conceptual basis for a new life-loss model that remains under development.

Chapter I introduces the topic of dam safety risk assessment and the central role that life-loss estimation plays in that field. Chapter II discusses important preliminary considerations in model development. Chapter Ill provides a detailed review of previous life-loss models that pertained to floods, including a critique of each. Chapter IV explores the DeKay-McClelland model in detail and raises serious concerns regarding its future use. Chapter V defines nearly l 00 variables and their respective categories for use in characterizing flood events. Chapter VI provides a detailed outline of historical insights that relate to flood events in one of 18 logical categories. Chapter VII proposes the framework for a new conceptual life-loss model-a model that is still under development and has yet to be refined or offered for testing-with sufficient details to indicate how it was developed and how it might be used. Chapter VIII provides a summary, conclusions, and recommendations for future research. Appendices A through D provide material related to over 900 pages of unpublished working documents developed while characterizing 38 flood events and nearly 200 subpopulations at risk. Appendix E offers a summary of existing software that, given additional development, might prove useful to life-loss estimation in dam safety risk assessment.