Vicki-Ann Dimas, Wayne Peck, Gary Gibson and Russell Cuthbertson
Globally, reservoir triggered seismicity (RTS) is a phenomenon sometimes observed in newly constructed large dams worldwide, for over 50 years now. Over 95 sites have been identified to have caused RTS by the infilling of water reservoirs upon completion of their constructions worldwide. In Australia, there are seven confirmed sites with observed RTS phenomenon that are summarized by temporal and spatial means.
With almost 40 years of seismic monitoring, primarily within eastern Australia, several of Australia’s largest dams have monitored and recorded many RTS events. At present, twelve dams are 100 metres and above in height as possible candidates, with seven of these actually causing RTS and a disputed possible eighth dam.
Important factors of RTS are reservoir characteristics (depth of the water column and reservoir volume), geological and tectonic features (how active nearby faults are and how close to the next cycle of stress release they are temporally) and ground water pore pressure (decrease in pore volume under compaction of weight of reservoir and diffusion of reservoir water through porous rock beneath). RTS is an adjustment process often delayed for several years after infilling of reservoir before eventually subsiding within 10 to 30 years, when seismic activity then returns to its prior state of stress.
Generally there are two type of RTS events, either a major fault near the reservoir most likely leading to an earthquake exceeding magnitude 5.0 to 6.0, or more commonly, a series of small shallow earthquakes.
Seismic monitoring of all dams (except for Ord River) are presented with spatial and temporal series of maps and cross sections, showing the largest earthquake, build-up and decay of RTS events.
Keywords: Seismic monitoring, reservoir triggered seismicity (RTS), earthquake cycle
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Jiri Herza and John Phillips
The design of dams for mining projects requires processes and technology that are unfamiliar to many mine owners and managers. Dam designers rely on ANCOLD assessments of Consequence Category, commonly leading to a High rating for mining dams due to a combination of potential loss of life, impact on environment and damage to assets such as mine voids, process plants, workshops, offices, roads, railways etc.
From this High Consequence Category the relevant annual exceedance probabilities for design parameters and loading conditions such as earthquakes and floods are selected.
Mining companies have sophisticated methods available for assessing risk, yet for their assets they often adopt an order of magnitude lower security for earthquake and floods even though the consequences in terms of lives at risk and impact on project are similar.
The discrepancies in the design standards lead to situations where extreme dam loads are adopted to prevent damage and loss of life in assets that theoretically would have already collapsed under much lower loads.
One difference may be that some mining dams exist in an environment which is controlled by a single entity. Unlike other dams, failure of these mining dams would therefore impact only individuals and assets which fall under the responsibility of the same entity.
This paper discusses the discrepancies between the design of mining dams and the design of other mine infrastructure. The paper considers the impact of discrepancies on the overall risk to the mine and compares the degree of protection offered by a factor of safety and the influence of reliability of design input parameters, alternate load paths and design redundancy.
Keywords: Dams, tailings dams, mining, acceptable risk, factors of safety
A. Scuero, G. Vaschetti, J. Cowland, B. Cai , L. Xuan
Nam Ou VI rockfill dam is part of the Nam Ou VI Hydropower Project under construction in Laos. The scheme includes an 88 metres high rockfill dam, designed as a Geomembrane Face Rockfill Dam (GFRD), which when completed will be the highest GFRD in Laos. The only element providing watertightness to the dam is an exposed composite PVC geomembrane, installed according to an innovative design now being increasingly adopted to construct safe rockfill dams at lower costs. The same system will shortly be installed on a water retaining embankment for a coal mine in NSW, Australia, and has been approved for a tailings dam in Queensland, Australia. At Nam Ou VI the geomembrane system is being installed in three separate stages, following construction of the dam. The first two stages have been completed, and the last stage will start in November 2015. The paper, after a brief discussion of the adopted system’s concept, advantages and precedents, focuses on the construction aspects.
Keywords: GFRD, PVC geomembrane, waterproofing, rockfill dam.
Jason Fowler, Robert Wark
Tropical Forestry Services (TFS) currently (2015) leases Arthur Creek Dam from the West Australian state government and utilises the water source to drip irrigate its Indian sandalwood (Santalum album) plantation. Arthur Creek Dam is located approximately 70 km south west of Kununurra in the East Kimberley region of Western Australia. TFS grows and processes the sandalwood to produce oil that is used extensively in the global fragrance perfume market. TFS took over the lease of the 26 m high zoned earth core and rock fill dam in 2007 and has systematically carried out remedial works to the structure to lower the f-N curve below the ANCOLD “Limit of Tolerability” and to well within the ALARP zone. This paper describes the proactive risk management approach TFS has undertaken to address dam safety issues. It also specifically describes the most recent management issue, being the outlet pipe refurbishment.
A number of dam safety issues were identified during the initial surveillance and subsequent annual surveillance inspections. Issues include insufficient spillway capacity, seepage from the right abutment and deterioration of the steel outlet pipe. The remedial works to the outlet pipe were completed in late 2014 and involved close collaboration between TFS, the contractor and the designer. The outlet pipe re-sleeving operation was complex as the dam had to remain in operation and the water level could not be artificially lowered. In addition, the original outlet pipe was asymmetrical along both the vertical and horizontal axes, close to the bulkhead gate structure. Contingency measures were employed to enable the dam to remain in operation with 3 DN 400 HDPE siphon pipes installed.
The completion of the refurbishment of the outlet pipe by sleeving the pipe reduced the risk posed by this structure by an order of magnitude. Planned future risk reduction measures include the treatment of seepage within the upper right abutment and rebuilding the crest. These actions will further reduce the risk of dam failure through piping and overtopping of the dam crest.
Keywords: risk, ALARP, outlet pipe, re-sleeving.
Monique Eggenhuizen, Eric Lesleighter, Gamini Adikari
St Georges Dam is located on Creswick Creek approximately 2km southeast of the township of Creswick and 135km northwest of Melbourne. The reservoir, located within the Creswick Regional Park and originally constructed to supply water for the Creswick quartz crushing plant in the 1890s, has since been established as a popular recreational storage and is the responsibility of Parks Victoria. The dam is approximately 16m high and located across a relatively steep gully. The embankment consists of earthfill with an upstream face of rock beaching and a grass covered downstream face. The primary and secondary spillways are cut into the right and left abutments respectively.
At the completion of a detailed design review, St Georges Dam was assessed to be within the top three of Parks Victoria’s dams portfolio in regards to Public Safety Risks. The detailed design review assessed that the risk position for the dam plotted within the unacceptable region of the ANCOLD Guidelines for the static, earthquake and flood failure modes. As such, upgrade measures were considered to be required. In 2010 and 2011, a number of significant flood events emphasised the importance of upgrade works at this dam, particularly in regards to upgrading the spillway capacity, and consequently Parks Victoria assigned these works a high priority.
SMEC was engaged to design the upgrade works for the dam. A number of arrangements to increase the spillway capacity of the dam were considered, with the most cost effective option being assessed to be a secondary spillway over the dam embankment in the form of a rock chute.
This paper describes the decision making process associated with the option selection and the methodology for designing the overbank spillway which utilised the findings in ‘Riprap Design for Overtopping Flows (Abt & Johnson, 1991), and US Army Corps of Engineers, Waterways Experiment Station, publications of standard riprap gradations and computer program CHANLPRO.
Keywords: Embankment Dams, Spillway, Rock Chute, Erosion Protection
Steven E Pells, Philip J N Pells, William L. Peirson; Kurt Douglas and Robin Fell
The method of Annandale (1995) is widely used by Australian practitioners for the assessment of erosion in unlined spillways. This method is based on comparison to various case studies, where the geology at each site is characterised using the Kirsten index (a rock mass index previously developed to assess the rippability of rock), and the hydraulic conditions are characterised using the unit stream power dissipation. In this paper, the historical development of this comparative design technique is traced and is critically reviewed against the original geotechnical and hydraulic data, and against a new, independent, dataset gained from unlined spillways in fractured rock in Australia, South Africa and the USA. It is shown that, while erosion can be usefully correlated against rock-mass indices and hydraulic indices, this ‘comparative’ design technique has been promoted beyond its reach – the data do not support the inference of an erosion ‘threshold’ as presented by Annandale (1995). It is argued that this type of analysis should be used only as an initial ‘first indication of erosion potential’, as originally proposed by van Schalkwyk (1994b).
Keywords: scour; erosion; spillways.