2009 – Loss of moisture content in clay core due to climate change

Dr Azan Khan, Ahmad Nasir, Kumud Kandel, Jaya Kandasamy, Hadi Khabbaz, Mahub Ilahee

Cracking in the clay core of embankment dams is important to dam safety because it can cause seepage through transverse cracks and with excessive seepage cracks may begin to erode the soil on the sides of the crack. If there are no filters to control this erosion, the erosion may progress to form a pipe, eventually leading to breach of the dam. Recent climate change has resulted in long term drought conditions in various parts of Australia, especially west of the Dividing Range. The prolonged drought conditions can lead to the loss of moisture content in the clay core causing cracking of the core material. The current research is investigating a relationship between long term drought condition and loss of moisture content in the clay core. This paper presents the loss of moisture content in the clay core of three dams in Australia due to global warming. A rigorous finite element modelling has been conducted to capture the moisture content changes in a typical large clay core dam.

Keywords: clay core, dams, climate change, moisture content

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