Document Type


Date of Degree

Fall 2017

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Constantinescu, George S.

First Committee Member

Eichinger, William E.

Second Committee Member

Krajewski, Witold F.

Third Committee Member

Odgaard, Jacob

Fourth Committee Member

Ratner, Albert


The current standard of simulating flood flow in natural river reaches is based on solving the 1-D or 2-D St. Venant equations or using hybrid 1-D/2-D models based on the same equations. These models are not always able to accurately predict floodwave propagation, especially around and downstream of regions where 3-D effects become important, or at times when the main assumptions associated with these models are violated (e.g. flow becomes pressurized due to presence of a hydraulic structure like a bridge or a culvert). A 3-D modeling approach, though computationally much more expensive, is not subject to such limitations and should be able to predict accurately predict floodwave propagation even in regions where 3-D effects are expected to be significant. This dissertation describes the development and validation of a 3-D time-accurate RANS-based model to study flood-related problems in natural environments. It also discusses how results from these 3-D simulations can be used to better calibrate lower order models. Applications are included where the flow becomes pressurized during high flow conditions and the sediment entrainment potential of the flow during the flooding event is estimated. Another important category of applications discussed in the present study are floodwave propagation induced by a sudden dam break failure. Results show that 2-D models show fairly large differences with 3-D model predictions especially in regions where 3-D effects are expected to be significant (e.g. near channel-floodplain transition, in highly curved channels, near hydraulic structures). The study also discusses the use of the validated 3-D model as an engineering design tool to identify the optimum solution for flood protection measures intended to reduce flooding in the Iowa River near Iowa City. 3-D simulation results are also used to discuss hysteresis effects in the relationship between bed shear stress and the stage/discharge. Such effects need to be taken into consideration to accurately estimate erosion associated with the passage of a floodwave.


Dam Break, Erosion, Floods, RANS, Unsteady, Volume of Fluid


xxiv, 266 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 259-266).


Copyright © 2017 Daniel Vicente Horna Munoz