2021 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Steve Cutchin and Donna Calhoun


Dam failures worldwide devastate downstream communities, so communicating the severity of these hazards is critical. However, complex multi-resolution representations of modeling results are crucial for dam failure research but difficult to implement. Therefore, we propose that using a multi-dimensional model created in a Virtual Reality (VR) environment would bypass the need for 2D resolution and allow for new analyses. We model the Teton Dam failure of 1976, based on a GeoClaw 2D Dam Failure Model, to visualize both the spatial and temporal hazard components associated with the duration of the historic dam breach. We evaluate and validate our model on the Oculus Quest 2 headset, parameterizing the environment using historical dam breach data and remote-sensing data, such as drone photogrammetry. This study balances the enhanced speed of interaction on the Oculus Quest 2 with the demanding computational requirements. Our output simulation of the 1976 Teton Dam failure's 3D rendering agrees with historical data and the 2D GeoClaw model. Modeling in the VR environment is tailored for improving research and teaching activities alike. Our approach is essential because non-specialist audiences, such as legislators, K-12 students, and downstream community citizens, can experience complex dam failure through a customized immersive VR simulation.



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