2010 – TOWARDS UNDERSTANDING A KARST FOUNDATION: USE OF A THREE DIMENSIONAL FOUNDATION MODEL AT DARWIN DAM

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

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