Five engineers from the Ministry of Water Resources at the Mosul Dam project in Iraq and one engineer from Trevi S.p.A., the construction company working on the project, recently completed three weeks of training with a U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Data Management Reach Back Team.
They learned about a Nashville District developed Mosul Dam Geographic Information Systems model, the GIS software, and the geology model of Mosul Dam.
Lt. Col. Stephen F. Murphy, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District commander, said geologists and engineers from the Civil Design Branch and instructors from the Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI), customized a series of training seminars at the Nashville District Headquarters for the Mosul Dam project.
“We are happy you are here and glad to be a part of this program that will assist in helping you understand the many functions of this software,” said Murphy to the engineers.
“The classes were put together so that they would have the underlying skills they need in order to work the Mosul model and understand what we put together, how to use it and how it can be expanded in the future,” said Vanessa Bateman, chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Civil Design Branch.
Bateman said her team and deployed engineers from the Nashville District coordinated the training.
According to Bateman, the Nashville District has the training, knowledge and experience to coordinate instructors, provide classes, train and provide data needed. Since the builders of the Mosul model are in the district, this makes it easier to bring the engineers to the United States.
Bateman said using a software platform comprising a GIS model, a relational database and linked documents such as spreadsheets, reports, photographs and scanned drawings, the Corps has applied its expertise in geotechnical engineering design, engineering geology and construction to provide project engineers with a wide range of visualized project information.
“One of the things about this software and training is that it will allow them to get a good look at what their requirement needs for GIS information and data management,” said Bateman.
Bateman added that the team collected data from reports, drawings and photos from Mosul provided by the government of Iraq and Ministry of Water Resources and put it into a GIS format. The team then developed one conceptual model that was used during training and is currently being used by the construction project. It is a living model which is continually updated as new data are generated by the grouting program.
The Mosul Dam is Iraq’s largest dam and the Middle East’s fourth largest reservoir. It is positioned on the River Tigris, 31 miles north of Mosul, Iraq’s third largest city with a population of 1.5 million people. Mosul Dam creates an eight mile long reservoir and holds back 8.9 million acre-feet of water.
The two mile long earth-fill dam was built in the 1985 and is a critical energy and water source. It was constructed on a foundation of soluble rock that can continuously dissolve, resulting in the formation of cavities and underground voids. This has made it necessary for the project to have almost continuous grouting since it was constructed. If the dam failed it would inundate the nearby city of Mosul. It would also inundate major cities farther downstream including Baghdad.
According to a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) report in September 2007, the dam required “extraordinary engineering measures” – namely constant re-grouting operations -- to fill in the holes and “maintain the structural integrity and operating capability of the dam.”
Bateman said the Iraqi engineers were provided a copy of the Mosul model, which they uploaded to their computers and will take back for use on Mosul Dam. She said each day of class they worked on the models, specific functions, asked specific questions and then took their up-to-date model back to the project.
“We loaded all the GIS database information they will need to run the model pf Mosul Dam and it’s very similar to that of the Wolf Creek Dam model in the Nashville District,” said Bateman. “Since they have worked on these models throughout their training, it is easier for them to understand and translate to others when they return home,” said Bateman.
The Wolf Creek Dam Rehabilitation project is the most similar to Mosul Dam. Located on the Cumberland River in Russell County, Kentucky, it was classified in high risk of failure in 2005. The dam badly needed repair and the scope of repair had never before been performed in the world. Like Mosul, it was an earthen dam placed on a karst foundation. While the final repair at Wolf Creek was the construction of a cutoff wall, large amounts of grouting were completed at the site before the wall was constructed.
The $594 million rehabilitation project at Wolf Creek included construction of a concrete wall 4000 foot long, 275 foot deep and a minimum two feet thick on the upstream side of the earthen section of the dam.
After completion of the project, engineers and geologists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Civil Design Branch received the 2013 USACE Innovation of the Year Award for their notable efforts on the Wolf Creek Information Management System. During the project, the Corps team of geologists became experts in developing, implementing and maintaining the Wolf Creek Information Management System through GIS.
“Working with GIS and proper data management is key to understanding your project and maintaining data if there is a need for further repairs,” said Bateman.
During the training visit to the Nashville District, the goal for the Iraqi engineers was to learn how to apply the GIS model and geographic understanding to create technical products to convey site conditions.
“This training has helped me better understand underlying geology and I am anxious to get back to the Mosul Dam and get to work, this training has been very good for me,” said Safaa Al-Grbawi, an engineer from the Ministry of Water Resources and State Commission for Dams and Reservoirs in Iraq.
The engineers gained great benefits from understanding and learning about the Mosul Dam Geographic Information Systems model, the software, underlying geology, how the Corps evaluates those conditions, and makes key decisions.
“Our projects are very similar to what they have going at Mosul Dam,” said Bateman. “They could directly relate their experiences to ours, and I think helping them understand modeling was extremely valuable.”
The success of the trip would not have been possible without the collaboration between several Corps districts. The engineers expressed their sincere appreciation to the Corps for the time and effort that was put into ensuring their trip was informative and beneficial.
“I really think it was a great moment spent collaborating and learning from fellow engineers from around the world,” said Bill Walker, geological engineer at the Nashville District. “They have an enormous task at Mosul Dam, and I hope much of the information they gained from their training here will help them successfully complete that mission.”
Corps instructors included Baron Worsham, civil engineer; Laurel Blackman, geologist; Vanessa Bateman, geological engineer and Amy Gilley, geologist. ESRI instructors included Chris Magnuson and Mike Rink.
Mosul Dam Engineers included Safaa Al-Grbawi, Hussein Al-Hasani, Alaa Al-Nuaimi, Waleed Al-Hadidi, Geologist Ismat Mohamad and Zaher El-Hajj Zaher, a civil engineer from Trevi- S.p.A, Italy.
(Picture Credit: Mark Rankin)