Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering - (Ph.D.)


Biomedical Engineering

First Advisor

Fadi A. Karaa

Second Advisor

Taha F. Marhaba

Third Advisor

Robert Dresnack

Fourth Advisor

Walter Konon

Fifth Advisor

Matthew P. Adams

Sixth Advisor

Frank L. Golon


Failure of embankment dams may result in catastrophic consequences. Considering seepage and internal erosion are accounted as one of the major causes of failure in earth embankment dams, it is essential to detect any concentrated seepage and sources of distress at early stages. A number of investigation and monitoring methods exist for the detection of seepage, with varying degrees of technological and implementation complexity. This research, focuses on the Electrical Resistivity Monitoring Method (ERM), and develops a condition assessment process that allows 1) the identification of potential seepage areas and progress through visual observation and flow measurement, and 2) the determination of the most likely paths where piping may have occurred.

In particular, two separate statistical studies are carried out to identify the existence of and quantify the probability of potential seepage sources in earth embankment dams. The testing and evaluation of the accuracy and reliability of the ERM method in seepage detection in earthen hydraulic structures is also undertaken as a result of the correlation of the field measurements of flow rates and ERM outputs. An earth dam suffering from seepage is studied and monitored visually and with the ERM to discover and locate the potential sources and paths of seepages, detected and observed at the downstream toe over time. A Bayesian network model is developed to evaluate the potential sources and related paths associated with the detected flows downstream. The model is completed by developing an approach to estimate the rate of erosion and predict the potential failure time of the dam with empirical and theoretical methods.