Interval Analysis of the Loss of Life Caused by Dam Failure

Wei Ge, Xiuwei Wang, Zongkun Li*, Hexiang Zhang, Xinyan Guo, Te Wang, Weixing Gao, Chaoning Lin, Pieter Van Gelder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Both hydrodynamic factors and social factors have large impacts on the loss of life caused by dam failure. Relatively large uncertainty intervals of the influencing factors lead to changes in the potential loss of life. Based on an analysis of the formation mechanism of loss of life, the influencing factors were identified. Combined with interval theory, a method for calculating loss of life and determining the impacts of the influencing factors on loss of life was proposed. The intervals of the exposure rate of the population at risk and the mortality of the exposed population, which are impacted by the major influencing factors such as the flood severity, warning time, understanding of dam failure, and building vulnerability, were recommended. Furthermore, a range of correction coefficients caused by the minor influencing factors, such as the dam failure time, rescue ability, and age distribution, was analyzed. The proposed method was validated by analyzing the losses of life in 21 flooded regions after 10 dam failure events and 2 flash river floods, in which the intervals of the estimated results all contained the actual loss of life. In addition, the ratios of the upper bounds to the corresponding lower bounds of the intervals were all less than 10, which is in accordance with the characteristic that the results of different existing methods vary within an order of magnitude. This is the first work that pays careful attention to the uncertainty intervals of loss of life estimates, and the proposed method effectively determined the severity of the potential loss of life caused by dam failure.
Original languageEnglish
Article number04020098
JournalJournal of Water Resources Planning and Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Dam failure
  • Formation mechanism
  • Influencing factors
  • Loss of life
  • Uncertainty intervals


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