Gavan Hunter and Robin Fell
Earthfill embankments in Australia have been widely used in dam construction since the start of the 20th century replacing the older puddle type and concrete corewall embankment designs. Most Australian dam portfolios will have one or more of these embankment types. A key component to the dam safety assessment of these dams is understanding their deformation behaviour, in particular the assessment of the future performance of these structures as they now reach ages of 40 to 80 years or more.
This paper presents the findings of a study on the deformation behaviour of earthfill embankments. It draws on a database of 54 case studies from mainly Australia, the United States and Europe. It is a component of a broader study on the deformation behaviour of embankment dams undertaken as a research project at University of New South Wales earlier this decade.
The data presented in this paper allows dam owners and their consultants to compare the deformation behaviour of their dam to the performance of other similar earthfill dams in evaluating dam safety. Typical patterns of deformation behaviour are presented and guidance is provided on identifying trends in deformation behaviour that are assessed as “abnormal” and that may be potentially indicative of marginal stability.
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Brendan Sheehan, Chris Topham, Alan White, Rowenna Lagden
Darwin Dam is a 21m high embankment dam constructed on a geologically complex foundation that includes karst limestone features. The dam retains the top 15m of Lake Burbury on Tasmania’s west coast, and borders the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area. Defensive design of the dam addressed the key failure modes of piping through the complex foundations of limestone, sandstone, gravels and silts, and guarding against sinkholes forming in the limestone foundations. During construction, a comprehensive range of instruments were installed in the dam and foundation, as a long term means of monitoring this structure. A range of surveillance data has been collected since lake filling and this data, along with historic geological investigation information, was used to develop a three dimensional (3D) geological model of the dam and
foundation with phreatic profiles. The software used was a commercially available geographical information system. This tool has assisted Hydro Tasmania to better understand and manage the dam. The paper outlines the need for a 3D model, the methodology for development of the model, resources required, limitations and lessons learned. The benefits of the model, such as aiding understanding of foundation behaviour, assisting with interpretation of surveillance data, supporting decision making, and potential use during incident response are also discussed.
Keywords: Three dimensional, computer model, karst foundation, geology, hydrogeology ,dam surveillance
Graeme Maher, Richard Herweynen, Martin Mallen-Cooper and Stuart Marshall
Increasing awareness of the environmental impact of dams means that fish passage is emerging as a critical issue for both existing and new dams in Australia.
The fish passage and outlet works for Wyaralong Dam, a new dam currently under construction, required accommodation of large ranges of head and tailwater levels. The solution that has been adopted, a bi‐directional fishlift using a single hopper with trapping for downstream fish movement occurring within the intake tower, is a world first. The solution required the innovative integration of a number of existing technologies to create a system which is necessarily complex, yet reliable and effective.
The paper incorporates discussion of the critical design constraints, the biology of fish passage, the process adopted to reach the concept solution and a description of the final design including its integration with the outlet works. A number of design issues and their solution are discussed in detail, particularly those associated with dealing with the complexity of the design constraints and how the components of the solution were integrated into a seamless design.
The paper will be of use to those involved in the process of providing fish passage on both existing and new structures that obstruct river flow.
A Bi-Directional Fishlift – An Innovative Solution for Fish Passage
Jiri Herza, Nihal Vitharana, Alex Gower
The Western Australia Water Corporation plans to increase the storage capacity of Millstream Dam, which is located near Bridgetown in the south west region of WA. The existing dam is an 18 m high zoned earthfill embankment constructed in 1962. The dam suffered a block heave of the foundation at the downstream toe during the first filling, probably attributable to high foundation pore water pressures. The dam upgrade will be challenging due to complex and unfavourable foundation soils coupled with these artesian pressures.
The dam is founded on lateritic soil, which is a common weathering profile throughout the region. These soils formed in a tropical environment of fluctuating water tables, severe leaching and translocation of iron oxides over many millions of years. As a consequence some of the lateritic horizons at Millstream Dam have been modified such that they exhibit behaviours that are not consistent with conventional constitutive models and correlations. These are attributed to a complex structure of the soil microfabric, which comprises clay particles bonded together into larger aggregates. The clayey aggregates are also bonded to each other, forming a porous matrix of silty or sandy appearance characterized by low dry density and high void ratio, which may nevertheless disintegrate on working.
Comprehensive geotechnical investigations and extensive laboratory testing have revealed that the foundation materials display characteristics of clayey and granular soils. Under shearing, these soils demonstrate high initial strength, which gradually reduces as the inter-aggregate bonds are broken and the relative position of the aggregates changes. Several soil samples also exhibited significant contractive behaviour on shearing generating high pore pressures under undrained conditions.
This paper presents the investigation and design methods used in the foundation design of the Millstream Dam upgrade with emphasis on unusual behaviour of the foundation media.
Challenges in dam design on lateritic soils
Justin Howes, Peter Amos
For many years Mighty River Power has operated an intensive Dam Safety Assurance Programme with respect to our nine large hydro assets, a unique run of river cascade system built between 1927 and 1972. From 2001 to 2007 the Arapuni Foundation Enhancement Project was a high profile activity, but there has also been much dam safety analysis and minor mitigation work that could be classified as “Business As Usual Dam Safety Activity” – this paper seeks to give a high level overview of the work carried out from 2000 to 2010. Items covered include; an overview of the hydraulic structures, their hydrological and geological setting, and the current dam safety regime. Examples of typical issues identified by the Programme are given on a structure by structure basis along the river. Seismic, Flooding, Emergency Planning, Documentation, Monitoring, Control, Electrical and Mechanical type issues are covered.
Richard Herweynen, Robert Montalvo, John Ager
The choice of materials used in the construction of a dam is one of the most critical decisions in the design process. Our natural behaviour as engineers is to adopt materials which have proven performance, and which conform to Australian or international standards, which sometimes causes us to overlook the specific conditions and demands of the project at hand. In an environment where the majority of concrete produced is for structural purposes, the properties of these concretes is often vastly different to those desired for mass concrete structures such as dams and spillways.
The big question at Wyaralong Dam was could onsite aggregate be used in the Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC)? The Wyaralong Dam is located in the Gatton Sandstone (early Jurassic), predominantly feldspathic to lithic‐feldspathic sandstones with a clay matrix. Early analyses and tests suggested that the Gatton Sandstone was not suitable for RCC aggregate due to a 68% wet/dry strength reduction, high water absorption (5.2 – 7.5%) and petrographic interpretation that clay content was mainly swelling clay, leading to durability concerns.
Due to significant community, safety and cost issues with importing aggregate, Wyaralong Dam Alliance (WDA), during the development of the RCC mix design for Wyaralong Dam, chose to pursue the use of onsite quarried sandstone aggregate instead of importing aggregate. Additional petrographic and XRD analyses and extensive durability tests were undertaken on cores of sandstone and RCC samples, including wet‐dry cycles, soak tests in ethylene glycol, soaks in sodium hydroxide, and heating and cooling cycles. These tests indicated that, if swelling clays are present, they do not impact the durability behavior of the RCC aggregate.
The substantial effort put into testing the sandstone aggregate has paid off for WDA. Not only have the results indicated that the RCC mix performs remarkably well in terms of durability, but the very low modulus of elasticity of the mix has provided exceptional performance in terms of thermal loading; with all the related benefits in reduced restrictions to placement schedule and cooling requirements. Onsite sandstone was not only proven to be a feasible option, it has been demonstrated that it is the best option for the project. Details of the study are provided in this paper.
Keywords: Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC), Sandstone, Aggregate, Clay, Mix, Durability