A Framework for Assessing Spatial Distribution of Soil Properties in Levee Systems Based on Underlying Geology and River Morphology

  •  Mustafa Saadi    
  •  Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos    


Flood protection systems are complex, interconnected engineered systems, where failure at one location means the failure of the entire system. Earthen levees, the systems’ major component, are at risk from many causes of failure including seepage, overtopping, erosion and instability due to seismic loading. Levees stretch for long distances and are formed through various geologic processes and human activities over time, however information regarding soil properties is collected only at limited point locations and varies significantly both laterally and with depth. Prediction of levee performance in locations where no soil data is available becomes a limitation for system risk assessment studies.

This study attempts to test the hypotheses that spatial variability of soil properties is correlated to regional variables such as distance from nearest river segment, river meandering sinuosity index and surface geology. A geostatistical ordinary kriging approach was used for developing these correlations. The specific areas used for data collection and analysis and model development in this study were sub-sections of the larger Sacramento River Flood Control Project (SRFCP) in northern California. Soil strength parameters of identified levee stratigraphy layers were statistically analyzed using a geostatistical ordinary kriging approach and correlated to preselected regional variables. Global observations that applied across the study area included the increasing trend of undrained shear strength for cohesive soils, Su, with increasing distance from the river, and decreasing trend of Su with increasing river Sinuosity Index levels. Only local trends were observed in the relation of friction angle of cohesionless soils, ?, with Sinuosity Index, as well as in the relation of Su and ? with geological formations.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
  • ISSN(Print): 1916-9779
  • ISSN(Online): 1916-9787
  • Started: 2009
  • Frequency: semiannual

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