• 17 May 2022
    • 9:00 AM
    • 20 May 2022
    • 4:00 PM
    • Online

    Structural Behavior of Dams 

    May 17-20, 2022 - 9:00 am MDT 

    Registration is limited to 12 seats 

    24 PDHs available

    Bruce Brand’s “Structural Behavior of Dams” is a 4-day course on Dam Engineering.  It is at the same time very theoretical and very practical.  Theory is presented and then applied to real-world dam engineering situations. 

    Bruce originally developed the course for FERC engineers, but now is offering it to the dam engineering community.  The target audience is experienced engineers, it would not be appropriate for novices.  Classes are small; no more than 12 students. 


    - Beam Theory with an emphasis on geometric non-linearities 

    - Safety Factor 

    - Loads on Dams 

         Steady State Hydrodynamic 


         Lateral Earth 


         Follower Forces 

         Seismic Loads 

    - Analysis Methods 

    - FEA Background 

    - Dynamics 



         Surge Tank Example 

         Wave Radiating Boundaries 

    - Fracture Mechanics 

    - Rock Mechanics 

    - Case Histories 

    - Arch Dams 

    - Gravity Arches 

    - Slab and Buttress Topics 

    In addition to instruction, Bruce provides the following software: 

    2DSTAB               Gravity Dam Analysis 

    TGRIB                  Taintergate Analysis 

    VF2D                   2 Dim. Non-Linear FEA 

    ARVAR                3 Dim. Non-linear FEA 

    DAMGEN            Gravity Dam Mesh Generator 

    ARCHMKR          Arch Dam Mesh Generator 

    To Register visit USSD's Learning Center

    • 19 May 2022
    • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Online

    What is at Risk: How to Assess Potential Dam Failure Impacts at a National Scale 

    May 19, 2022 - 10:00AM MDT 

    Online Webinar

    2 PDHs Available

    It is well known that a large fraction of the national inventory of dams represents aging infrastructure. As the frequency of extreme climate events increases, and the intensity, severity and duration of cycles of droughts and floods stresses existing reservoirs and dams, there is a need to take stock of both the conditions of the dams, their potential for failure and what would be at risk in that event.

    Given the large number of US dams, and the prevalence of critical infrastructure elements (energy facilities, power stations, transportation, water and wastewater systems, navigation) downstream of the dams, a comprehensive assessment of the socio-economic impacts is not a trivial task. However, many publicly available data sets now allow a certain degree of quantification of some of these impacts, and can provide an indication of the potential impacts on economically disadvantaged groups from an environmental justice perspective, as well as direct and indirect economic and supply chain impacts. This can facilitate at least an initial screening to prioritize the dams that should be of regional or national focus for risk identification and reduction.

    This webinar will review some of the data sources and the factors that need to be brought together in such an analysis as well as some initial results.  

    Participants will receive exposure to data sets and methods, and learn the importance of impact analysis to prioritize dam failure risk analyses. 

    Learning Objectives 

    1. Data sets available for dam failure impact analyses  

    2. Methods for analyzing and linking these data in the context of impact analysis  

    3. Methods for linking dam condition assessments  and climate information into potential failure risk 

    Register now via the USSD Learning Center

    • 16 Jun 2022
    • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Online

    Consequences of Flooding: Understanding and Estimating Potential Loss of Life

    June 16, 2022 - 10:00AM MDT 

    Online Workshop

    2 PDHs Available

    Explore the latest research and methods from the US Army Corps of Engineers on how to estimate consequences of flooding, with a focus on potential loss of life. Participants will gain an understanding of what causes loss of life during a flood event and how to estimate the potential loss of life for different flood scenarios.

     Learning Objectives

    1) identify the driving factors that lead to loss of life, or lack thereof during a flood event 

    2) describe the essential elements that must be considered when estimating potential loss of life from flooding 

    3) Identify common methods for assessing each of the essential elements that inform a life loss estimate  

    4) Identify the sources of uncertainty in life loss estimates and summarize how uncertainty is portrayed in the estimate.


    Jason Needham is the senior Consequence Specialist for the USACE Risk Management Center (RMC). He holds a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from New Mexico State University, an M.S. degree in Engineering from the University of California at Davis, and is a registered Professional Engineer in the state of California.  Jason specializes in risk analysis and consequence estimation, and he leads the USACE research and development efforts focused on understanding the potential loss of life from flooding.

    He has been a practicing Hydraulic Engineering and flood-related consequence estimation for over 20 years. Five of those years were with David Ford Consulting in Sacramento, CA where he worked with industry standard hydrologic and hydraulic software programs and developed and installed flood warning systems for various groups.  Six years were with the Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC) in Davis, CA where he led development of HEC-FIA, including adding the ability to perform GIS-based calculations and estimate potential loss of life from flooding. He transferred to the RMC 10 years ago where he continues to be involved in guiding research, development and application of the consequence estimation tools in support of risk assessments. He also is a lead developer of the USACE Levee Screening Tool and vice chair for the USACE Levee Senior Oversight Group. 

    Register now via the USSD Learning Center

    • 21 Jul 2022
    • 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM
    • Online

    Investigation of the Feijão Tailings Dam Failure near Brumadinho, Brazil 

    July 21, 2022 - 10:00AM MDT 

    Online Workshop

    2 PDHs Available

    At approximately 12:28 pm local time on January 25, 2019, tailings dam B-1 at Vale S.A.’s Corrego do Feijão Iron Ore Mine, located 9 kilometers north-east of Brumadinho, in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, suffered a sudden failure resulting in a catastrophic mudflow that travelled rapidly downstream resulting in significant damage and the loss of over 250 lives. This failure was unique in that there are high quality video images of the event that provide insight into the failure mechanism.   

    To determine what triggered the failure of this dam and why the failure occurred when it did, an Expert Panel carried out an investigation into the technical causes of the failure. The investigation included: (i) evaluating the nature and properties of the materials in the dam, (ii) assessing the dam construction and operation methods and their impact on the dam and tailings material properties, (iii) assessing the condition of the dam before and during the failure using analyses of available images, such as video, ground-based radar, LiDAR, satellite (InSAR and photographs), drone videos, and (iv) numerically modelling the conditions just prior to failure.  

    This presentation will provide a summary of the Expert Panel investigation carried out to determine the technical causes of the failure.   

    Learning Objectives  

    • Role of historical documentation, instrumentation data, and visual information in forensic evaluations 
    • Effects of bonding on tailings mechanical behavior and its impact on numerical modelling 
    • Advancements on CPT analyses of tailings materials 
    • Root-cause analyses considerations 
    • The participants will learn: 
    • Why the Feijao Dam failed when it did 
    • Applicability of monitoring and instrumentation strategies to tailings dams 
    • Best practices for numerical analyses of bonded materials 
    • Applicability of CPT to bonded tailings 


    Lucas de Melo, Senior Principal Geotechnical Engineer, Geosyntec Consultants, has over 25 years of experience in mining and dam-related projects, geotechnical design and field studies, hazardous materials remediation, and solid waste management facilities. His portfolio of clients includes public and private entities. Lucas was part of the four-member Expert Panel tasked to investigate the failure of the Feijão Tailings dam in Brazil in 2019. He currently serves as a Dams and Mining practice leader at Geosyntec’s Columbia, Maryland office, working on risk quantification, engineering evaluation, and design of rehabilitation projects and new facilities. In addition, Dr. de Melo is responsible for the geotechnical curriculum at the Johns Hopkins University (his alma mater), where he acts as a Lecturer. 

    Dr. Peter K. Robertson, Geotechnical Consultant, PK Robertson Inc., has more than 40 years of experience as an educator, researcher, consultant and practitioner specializing in the areas of in-situ testing and site investigation, earthquake design of geotechnical structures, and soil liquefaction.  He is the co-author of the primary reference book on Cone Penetration Testing (CPT).  Peter has also assisted in the development of several inexpensive CPT-based interpretation software programs and has presented a series of free webinars in an effort to enhance education and practice.  Peter was the Chair of the Expert Panel to investigate the failure of the Feijao Tailing dam failure in Brazil in 2019. Peter continues to provide private consulting to a wide range of clients and currently resides in southern California.

    Register now via the USSD Learning Center

    • 17 Apr 2023
    • 8:00 AM (EDT)
    • 21 Apr 2023
    • 5:00 PM (EDT)
    • Charleston, SC

    Broad Street, Charleston, SC

    April 17 - 21, 2023

    Infrastructure Resiliency Through Risk Management

    Join USSD and colleagues in beautiful Charleston, SC at the North Charleston Embassy Suites.

    Call for Papers Opens May 12, 2022

    Abstracts Due July 7, 2022

    Dam and levee professionals are invited to submit abstracts addressing the conference theme and other technical topics.

    • Concrete Dams
    • Construction and Rehabilitation
    • Dam Decommissioning
    • Dam Safety
    • Earthquakes
    • Embankment Dams
    • Environment and Sustainability
    • Foundations
    • Hydraulics and Hydrology
    • Levees
    • Monitoring of Dams and their Foundations
    • Public Safety and Security for Dams
    • Tailings Dams
    • Other Contemporary Issues

    Abstract acceptance or rejection notices will be sent on 9.1.2022. For those that are accepted, draft papers or expanded abstracts will be due 10.24.2022.                                 

    Abstract Submission Site:

     Technical Program Chair:   Ed Toms, AECOM

     Technical Program Vice-Chair: Aimee Corn, Gannett Fleming

     Conference Email:

Past events

11 Apr 2022 2022 USSD Annual Conference & Exhibition
07 Feb 2022 Leveraging Potential Failure Mode Analyses to Perform Semi-Quantitative Risk Assessments
25 Jan 2022 Structural Behavior of Dams
13 Dec 2021 Infrastructure Bill Overview - Member Only Event (free)
16 Nov 2021 Performance Based Earthquake Engineering and Fragility of Dams
08 Nov 2021 Role of Instrumentation in a Dam Safety Program
03 Nov 2021 Reviewing HEC-RAS 2-D Models: Pretty Colorful Animations are Not Always Accurate
26 Oct 2021 Probabilistic Flood Hazard Analysis
04 Oct 2021 Leveraging Potential Failure Mode Analyses to Perform Semi-Quantitative Risk Assessments
04 Oct 2021 2021 Fall Workshop Series
10 May 2021 2021 USSD Conference
22 Apr 2021 InSAR – Dam Safety Considerations and Applications
22 Mar 2021 2021 Leveraging PFMA to Perform SQRA Virtual Workshop
12 Jan 2021 Just Go with the Flow: A Phased Approach to Understanding Your Spillway
15 Dec 2020 Introduction to the Engineer of Record for Tailings Dams
09 Dec 2020 2020 Fall Workshop Series: Regional Analysis Tools for Calculating the Magnitude of Extreme Floods
08 Dec 2020 2020 Fall Workshop Series: Reclamation Consequences Estimating Methodology (RCEM)
18 Nov 2020 Seismic Thresholds for Embankment Dams & Their Return Periods
10 Nov 2020 2020 Fall Workshop Series: Instrumentation and Performance Monitoring of Dams
27 Oct 2020 2020 Fall Workshop Series: Introduction and Overview of Rock Scour
21 Oct 2020 What the f-N? Clarifying Misconceptions about Risk Plots
20 Oct 2020 Evaluating Complex Systems as Part of a Semi-Quantitative Risk Assessment
12 Oct 2020 2020 Fall Workshop Series: Leveraging PFMA to Perform SQRA Webinar
07 Oct 2020 2020 Fall Workshop Series: Understanding Potential Life Loss from Flooding - Shining a Light into the Black Box that is HEC-LifeSim
06 Oct 2020 2020 Fall Workshop Series: Introduction to Probabilistic Dam Breach Modeling
01 Oct 2020 2020 Fall Workshop Series
01 Oct 2020 Asphalt Core Embankment Dams (ACED) – Why, Where and How?
11 Sep 2020 Specialized Communication for Engineers - #3 The Business Skill of Likability
10 Sep 2020 Specialized Communication for Engineers - #2 Culture-building Conversations
09 Sep 2020 Specialized Communication for Engineers - #1 Crisis Communication
28 Aug 2020 Advanced Communication for Engineers- #3 Build Your Tribe
27 Aug 2020 Advanced Communication for Engineers- #2 Prepare for Difficult Conversations
26 Aug 2020 Advanced Communication for Engineers- #1 Executive Presence for Online Meetings
21 Aug 2020 Communication Fundamentals for Engineers- #3 Winning Presentations
20 Aug 2020 Communication Fundamentals for Engineers- #2 Be Heard!
19 Aug 2020 Communication Fundamentals for Engineers-#1 Communicate with Anyone!
02 Jun 2020 Professional Ethics Webinar
20 Apr 2020 Sponsor a Student at the Conference
20 Apr 2020 2020 USSD Conference and Exhibition
29 Oct 2019 Leveraging Potential Failure Mode Analyses to Perform Semi-Quantitative Risk Assessments
09 Jul 2019 Static Liquefaction Workshop
14 May 2019 FEMA National Dam Safety Program: Rapid Dam Break, Flood and Consequence Assessment: Preparedness, Response, Recovery and Mitigation Risk Assessments
08 Apr 2019 2019 USSD Conference and Exhibition
30 Apr 2018 2018 USSD Conference and Exhibition
20 Sep 2017 The Challenges of Dams in Cold Climates
14 Sep 2017 Lessons Learned from Recent Tailings Dam Failures: A Path Forward
07 Sep 2016 2nd International Seminar on Dam Protection Against Overtopping

United States Society on Dams
9975 Wadsworth Pkwy., K-2,145 • Westminster, CO 80021 - USA

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