Risk of Catastrophic Failure of Major Dams

by Don Rose, (A.M.ASCE),

Serial Information: Journal of the Hydraulics Division, 1978, Vol. 104, Issue 9, Pg. 1349-1351

Document Type: Journal Paper


The failure of some dams, located above large population centers, could cause catastrophic loss of life. Reasonable dollar values can be placed on human life, and it can be seen that in the case of some dam failures the dollar value of human life lost far exceeds the property damage. In some cases it is possible to evaluate the probability of dam failure. Combining the cost of failure with the probability of failure leads to an annual expected cost of failure. Dams with unusually high annual expected costs of failure must be designed, built, and maintained with unusual care and conservatism.

Subject Headings: Dam failures | Lifeline systems | Risk management | Failure analysis | Human factors | Probability | Case studies | Damage (structural)

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