2000 – Development in Non-Linear Finite Element Analysis for Dam Safety Management

A.J. Crichton, A.W. Ford, and J.T. Williams

Developments in finite element analysis software are allowing more scope for their use in the stability review of Australia’s ageing dam population. Until recently, model simulation of structural discontinuities were outside the scope of routine dam safety assessment. Current state of the art finite element software puts complex joint modelling tools within the reach of the practicing dam engineer.

This paper describes the use of non-linear finite element techniques to assess the structural adequacy of the Julius Dam, a 26.5 m high multiple arch buttress dam in North-western Queensland. This structure impounds 127,000 ML behind its 399 m crest length for the Mt Isa water supply. The assessment of the structural adequacy included using non linear contact elements to model the sliding between adjacent arch barrels. Contact elements are able to simulate friction on an interface by allowing force transfer by friction under compression with no tensile strength. This tool is invaluable for assessing formed joints or defects within existing structures, as is demonstrated in the paper.

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