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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2013, Article ID 936468, 20 pages
Research Article

A GIS-Enabled Approach for Assessing Damage Potential of Levee Systems Based on Underlying Geology and River Morphology

Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA

Received 17 July 2013; Accepted 13 October 2013

Academic Editor: Anaxagoras Elenas

Copyright © 2013 Mustafa Saadi and Adda Athanasopoulos-Zekkos. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Flood protection levee systems are complex, interconnected systems, where failure at one location means failure of the entire system. Levees are formed through various geologic processes and human activities over time and information regarding soil properties is collected only at limited point locations and varies significantly both laterally and with depth. Prediction of levee performance in locations where no soil data is available becomes a limitation for system risk assessment studies. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are particularly suitable for the complex and efficient management of spatial information, georeferencing capabilities, and geostatistical analysis. A GIS enabled approach for assessing damage potential of levees systems is presented. Spatial variability of soil properties is correlated with regional variables such as distance from nearest river segment, river meandering sinuosity index, and surface geology. A geostatistical ordinary kriging approach is used for developing these correlations. Soil strength parameters of identified levee stratigraphy layers were statistically analyzed using a geostatistical ordinary kriging approach and correlated with preselected regional variables. A levee system in Northern California is used as a pilot study for the proposed approach. Excessive underseepage and loss of freeboard due to soil liquefaction are evaluated as the two damage indices for earthen levees.