Rapid and Non-destructive Assessment of Levees for Strength and Liquefaction Resistance

In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave the levee system in the United States an overall rating of D-. This rating is based in part on information from the National Levee Database (NLD) which is comprised of approximately 14,700 miles of levees operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). These levees are more than 55 years old on average and were originally designed to protect farmland from flooding; however, due to urban sprawl and changes in land use, over 14 million people now live or work behind these structures. Unfortunately, only 8% of these levees are found to be in acceptable condition, while about 69% are minimally acceptable, and 22% are rated as unacceptable. In the coming decades, continued deterioration, urban development, and an increase in extreme weather events will test these structures to and beyond their capacity, leading to a significant increase in risk. To prevent failures in these structures, ASCE estimates more than $100 billion is needed to repair and rehabilitate the levee system. However, only a small portion of that money is currently allocated by the federal government. Therefore, the available money must to be used to repair the most critical levees first. Typically, levees are evaluated based on a simple visual inspection program to identify critical or weak spots in the levee system.

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  • Supplemental Notes:
    • A comprehensive literature review has been compiled which identified main levee failure mechanisms, the corresponding defects associated with these failures mechanisms, and the non-destructive geophysical methods that have been used to detect these defects. A small earthen dam has been identified and tested using surface wave methods and resistivity in association with Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS). Data processing is near completion for the dam. The results will be used to establish the data processing and preliminary statistical framework. Lab work has also been conducted to understand the relationship between resistivity, density, and water content.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $238139.00
  • Contract Numbers:


  • Sponsor Organizations:

    University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

    Department of Civil Engineering
    Fayetteville, AR  United States  72701

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    University Transportation Centers Program
    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Performing Organizations:

    University of Arkansas, Fayetteville

    Department of Civil Engineering
    Fayetteville, AR  United States  72701
  • Principal Investigators:

    Bernhardt, Michelle

    Wood, Clinton

  • Start Date: 20150101
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20170601
  • Source Data: RiP Project 37075

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01573278
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Maritime Transportation Research and Education Center
  • Contract Numbers: DTRT13-G-UTC50
  • Files: UTC, RIP
  • Created Date: Aug 21 2015 1:00AM