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See detailThe Causes and Mechanisms of Historical Dike Failures in the Netherlands
Van Baars, Stefan UL; Van Kempen, I.M.

in E-water (2009)

In a historical perspective, flood protection in the past was not given high priority - plague and periods of famine and war took precedence. Poverty and a lack of knowledge made it difficult to create ... [more ▼]

In a historical perspective, flood protection in the past was not given high priority - plague and periods of famine and war took precedence. Poverty and a lack of knowledge made it difficult to create safer dikes. Dike engineering did improve in Napoleonic era due to the French Central Government, but many dikes still failed. A historical overview of the causes and mechanisms of dike failures in the Netherlands has been drawn up, and resulted in a list of 337 recorded events leading to an assumed total of 1735 dike failures in the Netherlands between 1134 and 2006. Storm surges were, generally speaking, the primary cause of dike failure, followed by high water and ice drift. Two-thirds of all dikes failed as a result of the inner slope protection or the crest of the dike being eroded. The main causes for this were run-over and wave overflow, which could have been prevented, had the dikes been higher. The second cause of dike failure was ice drift. All other mechanisms were of minor importance, but were in the past either difficult to determine or even know about. [less ▲]

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