Nathan Delpierre
PhD student
Ir at UCLouvain in 2022
Contact - Personnal web page

Main project: Influence of soil saturation on earthen embankments failure by overtopping
Funding: UCL
Supervisor(s): Sandra Soares Frazao, Hadrien Rattez

In the current context of climate change and aging infrastructure, the failure of earthen dikes is becoming a
critical issue. Dikes have an essential protection role in flood defense, coastal protection or for the storage of
mining industry waste. The objective of the research is to develop and validate a simulation model to take into
account the effect of
saturation of the dike material on its stability when it is subjected to overtopping flows, which alone cause 34%
of failures (Costa, 1985). For this purpose, a complete simulation model will be developed, taking into account
the internal and external flows as well as the erosion and the consequences on the evolution of the stability of
the dam. The originality of this project lies in the multidisciplinary approach that takes into account the
evolution of the dike both from a hydraulic and hydrogeological point of view (water content, flow velocity and
surface erosion) but also from the point of view of the geomechanics and thus of the intrinsic stability of the
dike. Laboratory experiments will be carried out in order to validate the model experimentally. At this level, the
novelty brought by this project is the control of the evolution of the water content of the dike in real time with
pressure gauges and tensiometers. The acquired data will allow to calibrate the model and to confirm the key
role of the initial saturation in the dam failure.
Finally, based on the critical characteristics defined in terms of dike saturation, a study on large-scale
monitoring techniques will be carried out. In particular, the possibility of using technologies such as
photogrammetry or GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) to determine the degree of saturation of a soil will be
investigated in the context of dike monitoring.

IMMC main research direction(s):
Civil and environmental engineering

finite volumes
fluid structure interaction
geophysical and environmental fluid dynamics
geotechnics, soil dynamics
numerical simulation, experimental models
soil dynamics
soil mechanics

Research group(s): GCE


Recent publications

See complete list of publications

Journal Articles

1. Delpierre, Nathan; Rattez, Hadrien; Soares Frazao, Sandra. Finite volumes methods for coupled surface-subsurface flows. In: Journal of Hydraulic Research,. (Soumis).

Conference Papers

1. Delpierre, Nathan; Soares Frazao, Sandra; Rattez, Hadrien. Coupled surface and subsurface flows for earthen embankments using finite-volume methods. 2023 xxx.