Upstream construction methodology has been used to raise tailings dams in Western Australia (WA) for more than three decades, and the tailings storage facilities (TSFs) built in this manner have performed satisfactorily so far. The maximum design earthquake (MDE) for most of the existing, upstream-raised TSFs in WA was that corresponding to a 1-in-1,000 year annual exceedance probability (1:1,000 AEP). However, the recommended MDE loading for the High/Extreme Failure Consequence Category in the 2012 ANCOLD Guidelines on Tailings Dams is that of a 1:10,000 AEP. This more stringent seismic design criterion may restrict the use of upstream TSF construction in some areas of WA and Australia in general.
To evaluate the viability of upstream construction for a new or existing TSF, the effects of the earthquake design ground motion (EDGM) on the liquefaction and deformation response of the structure must be understood. The results of such analyses are an essential component in determining whether upstream raising will be feasible, or whether more robust but much more costly centreline or downstream construction methods are required.
A parametric study was completed to investigate the liquefaction and deformation behaviour of a typical, upstream-raised tailings dam under different earthquake design ground motions with different response spectra. The study utilized two-dimensional finite difference code FLAC2D effective stress dynamic analysis, in which the UBCSAND constitutive soil model was incorporated. Twenty-eight earthquake ground motions (matched and unmatched to the target response spectrum) were used in the study and the liquefaction response of the tailings dam model under those ground motions was analysed.
The results of the study demonstrate the importance of appropriate ground motion and response spectrum selection in assessing the seismic performance of an upstream-raised TSF. Liquefaction response was shown to vary with different response spectra, even though the corresponding EDGMs had similar peak ground acceleration (PGA) values. The importance of earthquake frequency content and duration, which in turn are affected by earthquake magnitude, distance and ground motion response, is emphasized. Scaling and matching the earthquake input motion to the uniform hazard response spectrum (UHRS) may result in overly-conservative design. Thus, selection of the most representative EDGM is essential to evaluating expected seismic performance for an upstream-raised TSF, and scaling or matching the earthquake input motions must be done cautiously.
Matthew Sentry and Darren Loidl
To triple Yass’ water storage capacity, Yass Valley Council was required to increase the height of their existing concrete weir by 3.0 m. The 100 m wide weir was originally constructed back in the 1920’s. Upgrade works to the weir included raising the height of the existing concrete weir by 3.0 m with reinforced concrete; install 33 number 27 strand post-tensioned ground anchors vertically into the crest; construct a new outlet structure; upgrade existing mechanical pipe works; and replace the existing pedestrian bridge with a concrete bridge capable of vehicle traffic.
The key project constraints during construction were to maintain constant water to the town’s water treatment plant and maintain minimum 70% reservoir storage.
The original weir had no auxiliary means of flow diversion and the construction constraints meant that the water storage could only be reduced by 1.0 m from the existing crest during construction, resulting in the construction work being carried out in an active water course with minimal means of flow diversion. These key project constraints meant that there was a high risk of flooding during construction work.
Geotechnical Engineering was engaged by Yass Valley Council to carry out the required upgrade work at Yass Dam. Prior to construction work commencing, risk workshops with client and designers clarified the flood risks during construction. To minimise the impact of flood events during construction, Geotech implemented several flood mitigation measures which were controlled by a detailed construction flood management plan. These control measures included construction of two temporary diversion slots cut into the existing concrete weir capable of supporting a 1 in 2 year rain event whilst allowing construction work to continue; re-design of concrete works to minimise the volume of concrete which was to be cut from the existing wall’s downstream face; detailed construction sequencing to minimise impact to existing and new wall during construction work; and the early installation and stressing of anchors.
Although a detailed construction flood management plan was developed and implemented, the Yass Dam site was impacted by 13 floods during the 20 month construction period. Several floods recorded water levels between 1.5 m and 1.9 m above the existing crest, resulting in work ceasing for weeks if not months at a time. As a result of the consistent flooding, Geotech was able to develop stronger and more resilient methods to be able to effectively work within an active watercourse on dam structures where minimal flow diversions are available. This paper presents the unique techniques implemented through the Yass Dam Upgrade project and discusses the effectiveness of these techniques and lessons learnt through the 13 flood events experienced.
Joseph Camuso, Bruce Howse, Vaughan Martin and Don Tate
The proposed Kotuku Flood Detention Dam has been designed to reduce flooding within Whangarei City. This paper describes the potential benefits and the impact of the project on the community and the environment. It also covers the engineering challenges encountered during the design phase of the project. In particular, the dam site is located within a complex geological area, including a basalt lava flow on the left abutment, and site constraints required a twin emergency spillway design. If the risks associated with the dam are managed effectively, the proposed dam will provide a valuable asset to the community.
B. Perrin and J. Vida
The Cotter Dam project represents the most significant infrastructure project in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) since Parliament House in 1988. Enlarging the Cotter Dam has increased the Cotter reservoir capacity from 3 GL to 78 GL, representing a 35% increase of ACTEW Corporation’s total reservoir capacity for the ACT region and providing water security to facilitate future population growth.
At 87 m high, Cotter Dam is the tallest Roller Compacted Concrete (RCC) dam in Australia. Construction began in October 2009, with excavation of the dam foundation commencing in March 2010. With typically 05H:1V slopes up to 115 m high, excavation posed a number of challenges. RCC placement commenced in August 2011 and continued until December 2012.
Innovation and continuous improvement were crucial to the success of the project. From development of specialised mechanical tools for the abutment excavation, to use of precast, to mechanical paving of the downstream RCC steps, construction practice on Cotter Dam established a number of new benchmarks for RCC dam construction.
This paper will describe the construction innovations used to overcome the challenges associated with construction during foundation preparation and RCC placement for the Cotter Dam Project.
Sean Ladiges, James Willey, Matthew Norbert and Andrew Barclay
The Enlarged Cotter Dam (ECD) Project, located in ACT, consisted of the construction of a new 87 m high roller-compacted concrete (RCC) dam and two central core zoned earth and rockfill saddle dams up to 23 m high on the low points of a ridge to the south-west of the Main Dam. The Main Dam is the highest RCC dam constructed in Australia.
A continuous single-line grout curtain with a total length of 1.2 km was constructed across the full extent of the Main Dam and the two saddle dams with the aim of reducing future seepage losses through the dam foundations. The grouting processes were similar for the main and saddle dams respectively, however the grouting of the Main Dam and saddle dams was carried out as two separate contract packages by different subcontractors. As such, the project provides a unique opportunity to undertake a comparison of the foundation conditions and control equipment and outcomes from the two packages of work. The foundation conditions were different at each of the three dams, with varying geology across the site.
The saddle dam grouting was completed in 2010, with the grouting carried out at the base of the core trench prior to construction of the embankments, while the grouting of the Main Dam was conducted in 2012-13, with most of the grouting works executed from the drainage gallery within the constructed dam.
Consistent throughout construction of the ECD grout curtain was a similar philosophy of real-time computer control, the use of Grout Intensity Number (GIN) parameters, water pressure testing, desirable grout mix properties and the avoidance of damage to the foundations. There were a number of key differences in the grouting process for the saddle dams and Main Dam; these include the ground conditions, the pumping control systems used, the GIN parameters adopted and the grout materials and mixes selected.
This paper provides a critical evaluation of the two grouting programmes, an assessment of the effectiveness of the grouting, comments on tools and methods used, and proposes a set of recommendations for curtain grouting over a range of ground conditions based on lessons learnt during the project.
Kinchant Dam is a zoned earth and rockfill embankment situated on the north branch of Sandy Creek, approximately 30 km southwest of Mackay in central Queensland. Kinchant Dam was constructed in stages. The ‘Initial Development Stage’ which consisted of an embankment length of approximately 3.3 km and full supply level (FSL) of EL 49.21 m AHD was completed in 1977. Further development completed in 1986 (Stage I) increased the FSL to EL 57.21 m AHD with an embankment length of 5.5 km and a maximum embankment height of 22.3 m. The dam has a storage capacity of 62,800 Ml and a 60 m wide emergency spillway with a fixed crest level of EL 58.21 m AHD, one metre higher than the FSL.
A series of investigations have been carried out since its construction as a consequence of both regulatory safety reviews and observed excessive pore pressures within the foundation that have led to wet patches developing at the toe of the dam. In one area at the toe, pore pressures were such that artesian conditions developed. This paper outlines the history of various stages of construction of the dam, the foundation investigations since construction and the safety review and comprehensive risk assessment process that lead to the upgrade design and construction of remedial works. The remedial works include the extension of the downstream filter material adjacent to the clay core and the provision of additional pressure relief wells at the downstream toe of the dam.