Earthquake Effect on Dam, CFD Simulation by ANSYS Fluent Training

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The present problem simulates the effect of an earthquake on a dam using ANSYS Fluent software.

This product includes a Mesh file and a comprehensive Training Movie.

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Project Description

The present problem simulates the effect of an earthquake on a dam using ANSYS Fluent software. To perform this simulation, a computational area is designed around a dam that has water and air currents. Therefore, a multiphase model of VOF (volume of fluid) has been used to define two air and water flows; So that its primary phase is air and its secondary phase is water flow. Since the interface boundary of the two air and water currents is recognizable and the two fluids do not mix with each other, the multiphase VOF model is used. Using Region production and using the Patch tool, water flow can be separated from the initial airflow.

The Frame Motion technique is used to define the earthquake process; So that using a UDF 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’s of the free surface over time.

Dam Geometry & Mesh

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


We carry out the meshing of the model using ANSYS Meshing software, and the mesh type is unstructured. The element number is 812943. The following figure shows the mesh.


Earthquake CFD Simulation

We consider several assumptions to simulate the present model:

  • We perform a pressure-based solver.
  • The simulation is unsteady.
  • The gravity effect on the fluid is equal to -9.81 m.s-2.

The following table represents a summary of the defining steps of the problem and its solution:

Viscous k-epsilon
k-epsilon model standard
near wall treatment standard wall functions
Multiphase Model VOF
formulation implicit
number of eulerian phases 2 (water & air)
interface modeling sharp
Boundary conditions
Up – Outlet Pressure Outlet
gauge pressure 0 pascal
Side – Outlet Pressure Outlet
gauge pressure 0 pascal
Walls Wall
wall motion stationary wall
Pressure-Velocity Coupling SIMPLE
Pressure PRESTO
momentum second order upwind
turbulent kinetic energy first order upwind
turbulent dissipation rate first order upwind
volume fraction compressive
Initialization methods Standard
gauge pressure 0 pascal
veloity (x,y,z) 0 m.s-1
water volume fraction 0 (patch=1)

Results & Discussions

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


There are a Mesh file and a comprehensive Training Movie that presents how to solve the problem and extract all desired results.


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