Journal Published Online: 04 February 2016
Volume 39, Issue 3

New Visualization Method to Evaluate Erosion Quantity and Pattern



The objective of this research is to develop tools that would improve the understanding of the process of levee failure because of erosion and reduce the risk of failure. Hydraulic erosion is a complicated phenomenon and depends on many different parameters. To improve design criteria for levees, embankments, and earthen structures, the development of realistic computer models that can simulate the erosion process is necessary. Verification of these computer simulations, as with any simulation, is a necessity. In this research, a large number of physical levee erosion tests were performed at 1g and at high g's using a geotechnical centrifuge. Centrifuge tests were performed to simulate real (prototype) size levees, and thus to obtain a more realistic model. The erosion was modeled physically in detail. Conventional three-dimensional scanning was used to precisely verify the calculated dimensions of initial and final computer model geometries, but did not yield interim data or measurements of the quantity of eroded soil during the tests. A Kinect device was used to scan and evaluate the volume of eroded soil and variation of the shape of the channels as a function of time. Three-dimensional images were obtained, and variations of different parameters were plotted. Various quantities were measured as a function of time. Based on recorded videos and pictures taken during the tests, it was discovered that the Kinect results agreed well with the physical models. The Kinect is a low-cost sensor, and enables the measurement of the rate of soil erosion, which, if done at all, usually requires expensive equipment. The Kinect device was also used in the centrifuge experiments, and functioned well in the high g environment. It is believed to be the first use of a Kinect device in a centrifuge. The application of this method in other laboratory experiments was also investigated.

Author Information

Kamalzare, Mehrad
Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, US
Zimmie, Thomas
Civil and Environmental Engineering Dept., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, US
Cutler, Barbara
Computer Science Dept., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, US
Franklin, W.
Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering Dept., Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, US
Pages: 16
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Stock #: GTJ20140226
ISSN: 0149-6115
DOI: 10.1520/GTJ20140226