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Probabilistic Assessment of Slender Hydraulic Structures Loaded by Waves and Hydro-Static Loads

Slender hydraulic structures such as sluices, navigation locks and storm-surge barriers are crucial for the flood protection of many countries.

The safety assessment of these structures is inevitably connected to many uncertainties; uncertainties in the hydraulic loading parameters, uncertainties in the resistance parameters, etc. As a result, slender hydraulic structures are often assessed on the basis of full-probabilistic methods (Crude Monte Carlo, First Order Reliability Method) which are able to explicitly account for these uncertainties by modelling them as random variables. The safety of the structure is then calculated as the probability against failure for a certain reference period.

The aim of this PhD is to set-up a generic modelling framework for the full-probabilistic assessment of slender hydraulic structures such as sluices, navigation locks and storm-surge barriers. For this purpose, the so-called ‘hydraulic structure reliability chain’ has been developed, which acknowledges that the failure probability of  structures is a function of the (uncertainties in):

  • the hydraulic loading parameters (water levels, wave characteristics);
  • the physical models predicting the wave loads on the structure (e.g. Linear Wave Theory, the Goda-Takahashi wave pressure formula);
  • the physical models predicting the load effects (stresses) as experienced by the structure (e.g. due to dynamic aspects);
  • the physical models predicting the structural resistance (such as obtained by codified design);
  • the degree in which system-effects play a role (parallel system, series system).

Current activities within the PhD focus on the probabilistic techniques to be employed for the calculation of the failure probability, whereby both accuracy and  efficiency are assessed.

The PhD is a collaboration between TU Delft, the Dutch Road Directorate, and TNO. Currently, Nadieh is a visiting researcher at SDU Civil and Architectural Engineering.

Nadieh Meinen

Supervisors: Bas Jonkman (TU Delft) & Raphael Steenbergen (TNO)


Last Updated 12.10.2020