Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Civil and Environmental Engineering

Committee Chair(s)

David S. Bowles


David S. Bowles


Loren R. Anderson


Joseph A. Caliendo


Terrence F. Glover


Daniel H. Hoggan


A risk-enhanced approach to dam safety risk assessment combines the benefits of the traditional approach with those of risk assessment. There is a need to automate the risk analysis calculations component of the risk assessment process so that the time and effort thus saved can be beneficially expended on strengthening risk assessment inputs.

The objectives of this study were as follows: (1) to develop a dam safety risk analysis model and demonstrate its application to risk assessment and decision analysis, and (2) to develop a framework for uncertainty analysis and demonstrate its application to dam safety risk assessment. Dartmouth Dam, a 180-meter high rockfill dam in the headwaters of the River Murray system in Australia, was used as a case study.

A risk analysis model was developed using Microsoft Excel with VBA programing. The existing dam and several risk reduction alternatives were evaluated against various risk-based dam safety criteria. Sensitivity analysis on key inputs was performed. A framework for uncertainty analysis was developed and the analysis was performed using the @Risk, risk analysis and simulation software. The risk assessment results, with and without uncertainty analysis, were compared. It was found that the results of the uncertainty analysis should be extremely useful for dam safety decision making as they provide an indication of the likelihoods of the results associated with a particular combination of inputs. It is recognized that simplified uncertainty specifications on the inputs are used in this study, thus caution should be exercised in applying the current results directly to the Dartmouth Dam. Recommendations are made for future work in this area.