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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

From July to September, 2014 the project team expanded by two women. One is an undergraduate research assistant while the second is an instructor (with an MS degree) from an underrepresented group who participated in a training course related to resistivity devices in Madrid. Trips were made to map Laqlouq to reassess already tested lakes on September 7 and October 5. A trip on October 26, 2014 was also made to reassess lakes, assess new ones, and conduct resistivity tests. During the trips, the project progress was discussed with Laqlouq’s Mayor, Mr. Boutros. A trip by the PI was planned to visit the laboratory of US Partner Professor Michael Mooney to discuss the progress and the direction of the project in September. Unfortunately, the trip had to be postponed and has been rescheduled for 2015. In addition, laboratory testing on bulk samples collected from a total of sixteen earthdams continued. A plan on visiting new communities (e.g., Tarshish) is in progress.

Laboratory testing will continue through the rest of the year and field resistivity tests in the field will continue. Field trips will also be made to reassess previously assessed and new lakes. Additional meetings will be held with the Mayor of Laqlouq and meetings with new communities are planned. Training for undergraduate students will continue. Potentially two high school students (HRA/s) will be recruited for this year and will coincide with the “Engineering Their Future” program which will be launched this year. A manuscript is under preparation to be submitted to 2016 Geotechnical and Structural Engineering Congress to be held on February 14-17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.

Project Site
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