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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER) SCIENCE
Cycle 2 (2012 Deadline)

Health assessment of earth dams in Lebanon: towards sustainable development

PI:  Naji Khoury (Notre Dame University-Louaize)
U.S. Partner: Michael A. Mooney (Colorado School of Mines)
Project Dates: August 2013 to July 2016
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.

Setting Up the Resistivity Test
Dr. Khoury and his team) setting up the field resistivity test(Photo courtesy Dr. Khoury).

Lebanon 2
Dr. Khoury and his team of undergraduate research assistants discuss visual inspection of the earth dams in Laqlouq (Photo courtesy Dr. Khoury).

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

During this period, the project team conducted additional field trips to Laklouk to assess and reassess additional earth dams using visual inspections as well as electrical resistivity testing. Laboratory testing on bulk samples collected from a total of sixteen earthdams continued and a plan to visit new communities (e.g., Tarshish) was planned, but has yet to manifest due to unforeseen circumstances.

As part of the team’s outreach, Dr. Khoury gave a presentation on the PEER project during the Geophysical Workshops on Geophysical Techniques at NDU. The PEER project was also featured in Albalad Newspapers in Lebanon. In addition, Dr. Khoury met with the head of Green Plan in Lebanon, Mrs. Gloria Abou Zeid, for possible collaboration.

In the new year, laboratory testing (e.g., direct shear, triaxial, and consolidation) and training for undergraduate students will continue and there is the possibility of recruiting two high school students (HRA/s) for the year. The “Engineering Their Future” program will also be launched in the new year and a manuscript has been submitted to the 2016 Geotechnical and Structural Engineering Congress to be held on February 14-17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Project Site

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