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JSU team researching levee-strengthening techniques

JACKSON — Thanks to a major research project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, researchers at Jackson State University are developing innovative techniques for levee strengthening during hurricanes.

In a $450,000 project titled “High Performance Turf Reinforcement Mat Strengthened Levee under Combined Wave and Storm Surge Turbulent Overtopping Conditions,” the JSU researchers with expertise in natural hazards engineering will test levee strengthening techniques needed to stand up to unsteady overtopping due to waves or combined waves and storm surges such as those caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The project is the second phase of JSU’s $1-million DHS-funded study of levee strengthening under full-scale overtopping conditions. The high profile research project provides, for the first time, full scale testing of levees in the laboratory.

The studies from Hurricane Katrina and others have indicated that the land sides of levees are exposed to significantly higher velocities and much greater erosive forces than the flood side during wave overtopping, surge overflow or combined wave and surge overtopping in a flood. Robust levee reinforcement is critically needed on the land sides of levees to resist erosion damage. Previous research and testing has focused almost exclusively on the conditions of steady overflow. As a result, little is known about the more problematic cases of unsteady overtopping due to waves or waves and storm surge combined.

The research project aims to determine the effectiveness of innovative levee strengthening systems during full-scale overtopping conditions simulating waves or combined wave and storm surge. The simulations will evaluate the use of high-performance turf reinforcement mats, which have extremely high tensile strengths and use a fiber technology specially created to lock soil in place. This project also applies two other strengthening methods, the articulating concrete block system and the roller compacted concrete system. The information obtained from the full-scale test sections, laboratory testing, geotechnical data and numerical modeling will be used to derive a new design and construction methodology for levee strengthening systems.

Source: Jackson State University

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