Flood Propagation

Institution: DICAR (UNIPV)

Major: HYRIS

Term: 1st Semester

Instructor: Gabriella Petaccia ( petaccia@unipv.it)

CFU: 6


Duration: available here

Schedule: available here

Office hours: Tuesday 10-12 or by appointment



The course aims at illustrating the classical models used in flood propagation studies, both from the mathematical and from the numerical point of view. The course will consist of lectures to illustrate the theory and practical sessions where the emphasis is on applications and problem solving. During practical sessions the ORSADEM computer code will be used. Each subject is illustrated with the support of experimental and observational evidences, mathematical modelling and well-documented case histories from major floods worldwide drawn from the experience of the instructor



Introduction: steady and unsteady flow, uniform and varied flow, pipe flow vs open channel flow De Sant Venant equations (1d), divergent and non-divergent form, supplementary terms and coefficients. Initial and boundary conditions. Discontinuous solutions: Bores Simple wave, Dam break waves. Regulations on Dam safety. Simplified channel flow equations. Numerical solution of the unsteady flow equations; method of characteristics, explicit and implicit finite differences methods, numerical integration schemes: predictor corrector, flux splitting, upwind and downwind; accuracy of the numerical method, stability analysis.

Shallow water equations (2D), mesh generation (structured/non structured), simulation of flow in natural streams ,1D versus 2D models, topological and hydraulic discretization, some computational problems in rivers and floodplains, flooded area mapping techniques. Models calibration and data needs. Flood wave propagation through hydraulic singularities. Review of 1D, 2D and coupled 1D/2D flood propagation models.

Introduction to the use of ORSADEM code; application to a case study


Basic knowledge of hydraulics



  • B. Abbott (1979). Computational Hydraulics. Pitman Publ. Inc, London
  • T. Chow (1959). Open Channel Hydraulics Mac Graw Hill Book , New York
  • A. Cunge, F.M. Holly, & A.Vervey (1980). Practical aspects of Computational River Hydraulics. Pitman Publ. Inc, London
  • W. Sturm. (2001). Open Channel Hydraulics, Mc Graw Hill, Singapore
  • Course notes, scientific articles and other material will be provided during the course.



Assignments will be handed over and graded during the course. The final examination will consist of an oral exam where the discussion of the practical lessons will be performed. Grading: 40% assignments, 60% final exam.