CEE Seminar: Seismic Stability Of Levees

MSTB 122
Scott Brandenberg

 Vice Chair & Associate Professor
 Civil & Environmental Engineering        

Abstract: The Sacramento / San Joaquin Delta is the hub of California’s water distribution system, serving more than 25 million residents and our state’s $50-billion a year agricultural economy. Fresh water is conveyed through the Delta via a system of levees that were constructed in the late 19th to early 20th century in an ad-hoc, unengineered manner. The purpose of these levees was to facilitate farming the rich organic Delta peat. Draining the Delta lands resulted in subsidence of the peat, and the interior of some “islands” is now as much as 10m below sea level. A single levee breach along the perimeter of any island therefore inundates the  island with water. An earthquake in the Delta poses a tremendous risk due to the possibility that simultaneous inundation of multiple islands could draw in saline water from the west, thereby contaminating the supply of fresh water, halting delivery. This presentation will discuss a broad research program undertaken at UCLA to study the seismic deformation potential of levees using field testing, centrifuge modeling, laboratory testing and case history evaluations. This research has resulted in significant findings, including (1) discovery of a fundamental new deformation mechanism for peat soil, (2) development of empirically calibrated fragility functions for seismic damage potential to levee segments, and (3) a system analysis procedure for computing system-level fragility based on segment fragility.

Bio: Scott J. Brandenberg is an associate professor and vice chair in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UCLA, where he joined the faculty in 2006. His primary research area is geotechnical earthquake engineering, with particular focus on interaction of deep foundations with liquefied laterally spreading soil, the seismic response of levees, nonlinear ground response analysis, seismic earth pressures, numerical modeling, and geophysical investigations/imaging. He earned his Ph.D. and M.S. from UC Davis in geotechnical engineering in 2005 and 2002, respectively, and a B.S. in civil engineering from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2000. He has received the 2015 Huber Award, 2013 Shamsher Prakash Research Award and 2010 Arthur Casagrande Professional Development Award.

Questions? - cee@uci.edu - (949) 824-7548