What's New in Research

What's New in Research- free for USSD Members

This webinar will highlight exciting dam-related research projects from around the world. Projects in (1) seismic capacity of dams, (2) aging and deterioration of concrete dams, and (3) health monitoring of levees will be featured. Three PhD students will present their research and answer questions.

1) Concrete dams are structures of great strategic relevance, but their seismic assessment is still a challenging task. Part of the issue is the role of uncertainties, due to both material and ground motion variability. Modelling said uncertainties is an important step in the seismic assessment of dams, but one which exacts a heavy toll in terms of computational costs. To lessen this burden, specific analysis methods have been proposed in the last few years: among these the Endurance Time Analysis, or ETA, which is based on artificial ground motions generated from meta-features of real ones. During this presentation we will briefly see the results of tests in which ETA is compared to established analysis techniques for validation.

2) Dams are aging and many were designed at a time with limited technical data. Average age of the 91,000 dams in the United States is 59 years as of 2022. The most recent ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure gave a D grade for dams. Recent crises (e.g., Oroville and Michigan dams) show the importance of dam safety. Concrete deterioration can result in severe decline in dams’ functionality making them more vulnerable to failure (especially under flooding and seismic events). Alkali aggregate reaction (AAR) is one of the major sources causing concrete deterioration. This presentation provides recent findings on a systematic and comprehensive framework for physics-based numerical simulation of aging dams coupled with field measurements. It highlights the importance of various factors for initiating and accelerating the aging process in dams. Also, the future expansion and dam safety is discussed. 

3) Current levee health monitoring is mainly visual and sometimes with discrete instrumentation at a single point ignoring the majority of the subsurface. As these critical infrastructures continue to age and deteriorate, better inspection practices are needed to assess the health of these systems. This research proposes to use a combination of non-invasive sensing techniques to image the surface and subsurface of levees. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are being used to collect optical imagery, thermal imagery, and LIDAR point clouds of the surface while geophysical techniques such as Multichannel Analysis of Surface Waves (MASW) and Electromagnetic Induction (EMI) are being used to characterize the subsurface. 

Golsa Mahdavi

She is a PhD candidate at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her PhD thesis is focused on the AAR analysis of concrete dams. Her research interests are safety assessment of concrete dams, finite element simulation, material deterioration and seismic analysis. She has received multiple awards including the 2021 USSD student scholarship award as well as EERI and MMM10 travel awards.

Carlo Resta

University di Pisa, Italy

I'm a Ph.D. student in Civil Engineering at the University of Pisa, in Italy. I'm currently involved in two separate (but not-too-distant) research topics: monitoring of cultural heritage structures, mainly masonry ones, and seismic analysis of concrete dams. I'm also a member of the Italian association Ingegneria Senza Frontiere (Engineering Without Borders).

Brittany Russo

University of California, Berkeley

Brittany Russo is a PhD candidate at the University of California, Berkeley studying GeoSystems Engineering in the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department with a research focus on levee health monitoring and was the second place USSD Scholarship Winner in 2022. She is the chair for the GeoEngineering Graduate Students Association at Berkeley which provides Berkeley GeoSystems graduate students with social events for networking and furthering education. She received a Bachelor of Applied Science in Geological Engineering from the University of Waterloo in 2019 and a Masters in Civil and Environmental Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley in 2020.


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03/16/2023 at 10:00 AM (MDT)  |  120 minutes
03/16/2023 at 10:00 AM (MDT)  |  120 minutes
PDH Certificate
2.00 PDH credits  |  Certificate available
2.00 PDH credits  |  Certificate available