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

Lebanon 2
Dr. Khoury and his team) setting up the field resistivity test.
Setting Up the Resistivity Test
Dr. Khoury and his team of undergraduate research assistants discuss visual inspection of the earth dams in Laqlouq.
2-514 Bievre Presentation
Dr. Bievre of the University of Grenoble presents on earth dam assessment techniques (Photos courtesy of Dr. Khoury).
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 October 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.

 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

In the spring, field trips were made to conduct additional geotechnical and geophysical testing, namely, resistivity and seismic analysis. An additional small scale earth dam was built with a weak zone and tested in the laboratory, advanced modeling using the Plaxis and Resistivity support vector machine was also conducted. Erosion testing was conducted on soil samples. In Soil Mechanics, students were involved in competition-like project in which they had to design earth dams and data was disseminated in the classrooms.

Dr. Khoury presented on earth dams at GeoAmericas 2016 held in Miami in April. While in the US, he also received training on an MASW and AMT device that was recently purchased. Two additional manuscripts were accepted to be presented at ACTEA 2016 in Lebanon and published in the conference proceedings. Dr. Gregory Bievre, an associate professor at the University of Grenoble, was also invited to visit the laboratory and he gave a presentation on the use of geophysical techniques for earth dam assessment.

In the coming months, additional erosion tests will be conducted and additional analysis on the second earth dam that was built will continue. Training for undergraduate students will continue as 11 new students jointed the project team in the past quarter. Three manuscripts are under preparation and will be submitted to the Journal of Applied Geophysics and Geosynthetics International, among others, for possible publications.

Project Site