2012 – Rock Erosion Experiences in the Wivenhoe Dam Spillway

Eric Lesleighter, Peyman Andaroodi, Colleen Stratford

In January 2011 major flooding was experienced across a large part of Southern Queensland. The flood discharges through the Wivenhoe Dam spillway caused extensive erosion of the rock in the plunge pool. While not an issue in relation to the spillway structure’s security, the rock erosion experience was dramatic for a number of reasons. The paper presents details of the extent of erosion under head conditions that can be classed as moderate only when compared with many taller dams. The discharges over several days resulted in a pile of huge rock blocks downstream of the plunge pool.
The paper describes the plunge pool design dimensions, the geology, the hydrology of the releases, the hydraulics of the plunge pool, the surveys of the pool and rock mound, and moves on to discuss the mechanism of the fracturing and transport of the rock. Similar relevant experiences will be cross referenced, especially from details of recent experiences at the Kariba Dam and the study of remedies in the context of the dam’s actual safety.
From an actual major experience of erosion, and the sheer volume of rock that was lifted up and out of the plunge pool, the occurrence stands as a timely demonstration of what can happen in similar spillway situations, and suggests the type of awareness that spillway design needs to accommodate for energy dissipation facilities in unlined spillways plunge pool.
Keywords: Spillways, plunge pools, rock erosion, scour, plunging jets, pressure transients.

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