American Society of Civil Engineers


1923 Gleno Dam Break: Case Study and Numerical Modeling


by Marco Pilotti, (corresponding author), (Associate Professor, DICATA, Univ. of Brescia, Via Branze 43, 25123 Brescia, Italy E-mail: marco.pilotti@ing.unibs.it), Andrea Maranzoni, (Researcher, DICATA, Univ. of Brescia, Via Branze 43, 25123 Brescia, Italy. E-mail: andrea.maranzoni@unipr.it), Massimo Tomirotti, (Associate Professor, DICATA, Univ. of Brescia, Via Branze 43, 25123 Brescia, Italy. E-mail: massimo.tomirottiing@ing.unibs.it), and Giulia Valerio, Ph.D., (Student, DICATA, Univ. of Brescia, Via Branze 43, 25123 Brescia, Italy. E-mail: giulia.valerio@ing.unibs.it)

Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, Vol. 137, No. 4, April 2011, pp. 480-492, (doi:  http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)HY.1943-7900.0000327)

     Access full text
     Purchase Subscription
     Permissions for Reuse  

Document type: Journal Paper
Abstract: On the morning of December 1, 1923, the Gleno Dam (located in the Central Italian Alps) suddenly collapsed a few days after the first complete reservoir filling. Nearly 4.5 x 106 m3 of water was released. The consequent inundation caused significant destruction along the downstream valley and a death toll of at least 356 lives. This failure is the only historical case of dam break caused by structural deficiencies that has occurred in Italy. As a result, it has deeply influenced the evolution of Italian regulations regarding dam design and hydraulic risk evaluation. However, in spite of its relevance, this event has never been characterized from a hydraulic standpoint. This paper reports the main information obtained from the analysis of a vast amount of historical documents regarding the Gleno Dam break to set up a case study useful for validating dam-break models in mountain settings. Moreover, it presents the main results of one-dimensional (1D) modeling of the dam break wave propagation accomplished with a first-order finite volume numerical scheme recently proposed in the literature for field applications. The overall effectiveness and reliability of the model are evaluated for this case characterized by very irregular topography. Finally, the practical relevance of several choices that the numerical reconstruction of this kind of event demands is tested.


ASCE Subject Headings:
Dam failures
Shallow water
Numerical models
Hydraulic models
Case studies
Italy

Author Keywords:
Dam failure
1D dam-break modeling
Shallow water
Finite volume numerical model
Hydraulic hazard
Case study