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Heat-Seepage Coupling and Anomaly Detection in Earth Dams

Binyam Mammo Bekele, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Earth dams serve many purposes to humans, such as electricity, irrigation water, flood control, recreation, etc. Yet, seepage-related issues account for about 50% worldwide and 20% of U.S. earth dam failures, posing serious safety concerns. Therefore, seepage monitoring is needed to ensure the safe operation of dams. The hydro-thermal coupled (HTC) approach, which relates heat and seepage in earthen dams, has become an attractive seepage assessment method since the fiber optics Distributed Temperature Sensing (DTS). Using DTS, temperatures at close intervals (e.g., 0.25 m) and over several kilometers of stretch can be acquired. However, as the technology is relatively recent, the DTS-based HTC approach needs more research for its advancement. Research on boundary temperature - seepage - DTS interactions and detection of anomalies within the raw temperature data has not developed well. Therefore, the approach is still not envisioned as a substitute for traditional seepage monitoring techniques, such as visual and geophysical methods. Thus, this dissertation aimed to advance the HTC approach using DTS as a sensing method. A series of small-scale laboratory tests and computational modeling of an earth dam was conducted to improve our understanding of the interaction between boundary temperature, seepage, and the internal temperature obtained from high-resolution DTS. Finally, a real-time anomaly detection method was proposed using the spatial autocorrelation technique to label temperature readings from a DTS as healthy, potentially, and most likely an outlier.

Subject Area

Civil engineering

Recommended Citation

Bekele, Binyam Mammo, "Heat-Seepage Coupling and Anomaly Detection in Earth Dams" (2022). ETD collection for University of Nebraska-Lincoln. AAI29165654.