Articles | Volume 9, issue 4
10 Aug 2009
 | 10 Aug 2009

Development of dike fragility curves for piping and micro-instability breach mechanisms

S. Vorogushyn, B. Merz, and H. Apel

Abstract. The paper analyses the prevailing breach mechanisms of fluvial dikes. Piping in the dike foundation and slope failure as a consequence of seepage flow through a dike core (micro-instability) were identified as two of the dominant breach mechanisms for historically-grown dikes along with overtopping and slope macro-instability. For the former two mechanisms the physically-based and empirical process descriptions were reviewed and led to the formulation of the reliability functions. Evaluation of these functions in the Monte Carlo framework for the time dependent load led to the development of fragility functions. These functions indicate the probability of failure of a dike section upon loading and can be computed for each spatially discretised dike section. The probability of breaching is conditioned by the uncertainty in geometrical and geotechnical dike parameters. This uncertainty is explicitly taken into account during computation of the fragility functions in a Monte Carlo simulation. Sensitivity analysis was carried out in order to identify the sensitive geotechnical parameters influencing the distribution of failure probability. The identification of sensitive parameters indicates the priorities in geotechnical measurement campaigns aimed at the assessment of dike stability. The newly developed fragility functions can be applied in flood hazard and risk assessment studies for modelling of dike failures in a probabilistic framework.