Earthquake Effect on Dam, CFD Simulation by ANSYS Fluent Tutorial

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  • The problem numerically simulates the effect of an earthquake on a dam using ANSYS Fluent software.
  • We design the 3-D model by the Design Modeler software.
  • We Mesh the model by ANSYS Meshing software, and the element number equals 812943.
  • We perform this simulation as unsteady (Transient).
  • We use the VOF Multi-Phase model to define water and air.
  • We use the Frame Motion to define a movement in this model with a UDF.

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The journal file in ANSYS Fluent is used to record and automate simulations for repeatability and batch processing.
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Geometry, Mesh, and CFD Simulation methodologygy explanation, result analysis and conclusion
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The present problem simulates the effect of an earthquake on a dam using ANSYS Fluent software. We perform this CFD project and investigate it by CFD analysis.

The present model is designed in two dimensions using Design Modeler software. The model includes a computational area that includes water and air flows, so a dam with an asymmetric geometric shape is designed in this area.

The meshing of the model has been done using ANSYS Meshing software. The element number is 812943.

Also, a transient solver was enabled due to the nature of the simulated phenomenon, which is time-progressing.

Earthquake Methodology

A computational area is designed around a dam with water and air currents to perform this simulation. Therefore, a multiphase model of VOF (volume of fluid) has been used to define two air and water flows; So its primary phase is air, and its second phase is water flow.

Since the interface boundary of the two air and water currents is recognizable and the two fluids do not mix, the multiphase VOF model is used. Using Region Production and the Patch tool, water flow can be separated from the initial airflow.

The Frame Motion technique defines the earthquake process, in which a UDF is used to determine the type of movement and displacement of the computational area.

The simulation is time-dependent to examine the pressure changes on the dam surface and the displacement of the water flow of the free surface over time. Also, the standard k-epsilon model is used to solve turbulent fluid equations.

Earthquake Conclusion

At the end of the solution process, three-dimensional contours related to the volume fraction of each water and air phase are obtained. Then, a three-dimensional image of the water flow’s free surface is obtained using the Iso-Surface tool and considering the volume fraction value of 0.5 for each phase.

According to the image obtained from the free surface of the water flow, it can be said that the water flow has been completely affected by the earthquake and has become entirely turbulent. The pressure, velocity, and kinetic energy counters of turbulence are obtained on this water’s free surface.

The study of changes in pressure and velocity on the water’s free surface also shows an earthquake’s effect.

These contours correspond to the last second of the simulation process or the final moment of the earthquake. Furthermore, two-dimensional contours of static pressure and wall tension on the ground surface and the dam’s surface have been obtained.

Also, a graph of changes in the mean static pressure on the dam’s surface over time is obtained.



  1. Talia Murray

    I have some ideas for improving this simulation. Can I contribute?

    • MR CFD Support

      We welcome and appreciate contributions. Your ideas could help us improve our simulations and provide better solutions to our users. Thank you for your interest and support!

  2. Kaleigh Toy V

    I appreciate the dedication to accuracy and validation in this simulation.

  3. Kaelyn Bruen

    How accurate is this simulation in predicting the behavior of a dam during an earthquake?

    • MR CFD Support

      The simulation uses advanced numerical methods and real-world earthquake data to provide a highly accurate prediction of a dam’s behavior during an earthquake. However, like all simulations, it should be used in conjunction with other engineering analyses and not as a sole decision-making tool.

  4. Dallin Larkin

    Can this simulation handle different types of dams?

    • MR CFD Support

      Yes, the simulation can be adapted to handle different types of dams by changing the dam geometry and material properties in the simulation setup. This makes it a versatile tool for various applications.

  5. Liliana Ferry

    How does this simulation model the effect of an earthquake on a dam?

    • MR CFD Support

      The simulation models the effect of an earthquake on a dam by applying a seismic load to the dam structure. This load is based on real-world earthquake data and is applied in a way that mimics the movement of the earth during an earthquake.

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