Document Type : Research Paper


Civil Engineering Dept., University of Technology-Iraq, Alsina’a street, 10066 Baghdad, Iraq.


Dam safety is an important issue as it directly influences environmental and life losses. Embankment material and embankment core are important factors that contribute to determining the size and hydraulic characteristics of the breach that occurs due to dam failure. The current topic is to present the analysis of the impact of the dam materials properties and hydraulic characteristics on breach dimensions due to overtopping failure using 2D-HEC-RAS software with the aid of RAS-Mapper. The analysis was made by Digital Elevation Model (DEM) conversed to a Triangular Irregular Network (TIN), then the 2D area of the dam was determined and the storage area boundary was calculated. Mosul dam in Iraq, considered one of the big dams that consist of different materials in the core and body, was selected as a case study to simulate the dam breach development due to overtopping failure. Six scenarios of dam failure were carried out for three types of dam materials (dam with corewall, concrete-face dam, and homogeneous zoned fill dam), each with high and medium erodibility. All scenarios were made for the reservoir elevation of 341 m which is considered the probable elevation for failure occurrence. The results showed that the minimum and maximum values of breach width were found to be 542 m and 1118 m, respectively in both cases of concrete-face dam type with a high erodibility and homogeneous zoned fill dam with medium erodibility rate. It has been illustrated that the medium erodibility in each scenario gives a smaller width for a long time, especially in homogeneous zoned fill dam type which is a good indication in engineering design. The analysis of sensitivity was carried out to examine the impact of pool volume at failure on breaching time and width of the breach. It showed that the breach width is more sensitive to reservoir fill capacity and there is a linear relationship between water volume reduction ratios and the breach width. Finally, tests of the six cases reveal that the proposed model is sensitive to soil conditions.

Graphical Abstract


  • The 2D HEC-RAS models for the overtopping failure in a virtual dam were examined.
  • The maximum breach width occurs in a short time with a side slope greater than 1:1 in the concrete face dam.
  • The medium erodibility in each scenario gave a small width value and a long time for breach forming.
  • Breach width and time are more sensitive to reservoir-filled capacity.


Main Subjects

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