In this project researchers will use accepted scientific and engineering procedures to study earth dams in Lebanon in order to advance scientific and applied knowledge about best practices for building and monitoring earth dams. This will be accomplished by visually inspecting dams for deficiencies, using geophysical techniques to assess dams and monitor their integrity, and modeling internal erosion using a support vector machine. Development of these models can help predict the performance and health of earth dams and add to existing models on the erosion characteristics of soils.
Three educational aims complement the research work and add to the scientific merit. The program includes plans for recruiting and mentoring high school and undergraduate students, particularly women and persons with disabilities, to help them gain experience in engineering research; developing a program to introduce high school students and persons with disabilities to sustainable practices in civil engineering; and organizing workshops on sustainable engineering for use in high schools and public forums. The educational component of this project will give remote communities access to information about building and maintaining earth dams. As communities become familiar with appropriate techniques, they will not only experience economic growth but will also be able to advocate for policy changes regarding dam construction and maintenance. On the broader international level, the scientific community at large can use the results in future research on understanding earth dam behavior, and data collected during the project can be added to the international database on earth dams.
Summary of Recent Activities
Dr. Khoury started 2015 with a focus on two main activities, informational outreach and field research. The first consisted of conducting advanced laboratory testing (triaxial, direct shear, consolidation, permeability) on additional soil samples from different lakes. The team also began advanced modeling using Plaxis in which they will model earthquake loading. An abstract based on this work was submitted to GeoAmerica 2016 which will be held April 10 – 13, 2016 in Miami.
The second aspect of the team’s work included participation in the USAID Research Funds for Development Symposium on January 14 in which Dr. Khoury presented his speach “An Awardee’s Perspective on Research Development: Impacts of the new USAID Scientific Research Policy” as well as participation in an open house event at NDU in March. High school students were exposed to the PEER project as part of the "Engineering Their Future" program at university. Students were invited to take a quiz with the results reflected in a new guideline that will be used to hire three students to work on the project in summer. Lastly, in January, Dr. Khoury was was hosted by the Free Lebanon Radio on "Ni2ta Al Sater," where he discussed the team’s work and provided an overview of the PEER project.
In the coming months, laboratory testing (e.g., direct shear, triaxial and consolidation) will continue. The team will share their results in meetings with the Hasroun Municipality and discuss plans for further assessment of the areas of Hasroun and Laklouk as they are no longer covered in snow. Dr. Khoury will also train new undergraduate team members as eight students graduated in February using the PEER project as a basis for their own thesis’. The team also plans to submit two manuscripts to GeoChicago 2016 that will take place in Chicago from August 14 - 18, 2016. Project Site