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
The National Seismic Hazard Assessment 2018 (NSHA 18) project intends to revise the existing seismic hazard map (AS1170.4 2007) for Australia. Geoscience Australia (GA) are leading the project along with a consortium of seismologists, geologists and earthquake engineers.
The NSHA 18, due to be released in 2018 is of great importance to dam owners and operators. The project intends to incorporate a comprehensive approach to seismic hazard, particularly in modelling uncertainty and variability.
The Global Earthquake Model (GEM) is an international consortium of scientists, engineers and policy makers. One of the primary aims of GEM is to provide a uniform set of tools for analysis in seismic hazard and risk. GEM was established to provide a framework for global standards in comparing risk analysis, awareness and actions in an effort to increase resilience to vulnerable communities.
The NSHA 18 will use the GEM framework in order to meet its own objectives for the new upcoming hazard map. The Seismology Research Centre will contribute to the NSHA 18 in three areas. Firstly, to produce a unified earthquake catalogue where GA will homogenise magnitudes to a uniform scale. Secondly, to produce a number of applicable alternate seismotectonic models, and thirdly, through the contribution of ground motion data collected over the last forty years within Australia.
This paper discusses the common environmental issues and requirements project lenders have when financing hydropower dam projects in developing countries. The environmental specialist’s role, as part of the Lender’s Technical Advisor team, is discussed throughout the main phases of project finance (credit approval, financial close, lending/construction and loan repayment/operation). Further, how environmental issues are reviewed and monitored, thereby minimising reputational risks to the lenders are outlined.
Lenders typically consider hydropower dam financing, especially reservoir schemes, as high reputational risk loans. Finance is usually syndicated and although most international lenders are Equator Principles signatories or use the International Financing Corporations (IFC) Performance Standards, some lenders have additional environmental guidelines and requirements to enable financing. These differences are discussed.
Common environmental concerns include loss of habitat of endangered and/or threatened species, changes to river flows, erosion and sediment control during construction, and the minimisation and disposal of project wastes.
These issues are discussed drawing on the author’s experience in monitoring environmental issues of hydropower projects in Asia Pacific and Africa, including both smaller run-of-river schemes and larger storage reservoir projects.
Keywords: Environment, impacts, project financing, concerns, lenders, lenders technical advisor.
David Brett, Robert Longey, Jiri Herza
The independent expert review panel for the Mount Polley Tailings Storage Facility failure came out strongly recommending changes to the technology of tailings dams in British Columbia (and by inference, world-wide). The Panel had examined the historical risk profile of tailings dams in British Columbia and recommended, amongst other things, that best available technology (BAT) be adopted for tailings disposal. Examples of BAT, described by the panel, included “dry-stacking” of filtered, unsaturated, compacted tailings and reduction in the use of water covers in a closure setting. The recommended technologies would require a major shift in current practice and raises many questions, such as:
– Are these recommendations appropriate in Australia?
– Does this signal the end of the tailings dams as we know them?
– Do the current Australian National Committee on Large Dams Guidelines (ANCOLD) apply to these new BAT technologies?
– If not, is there a role for ANCOLD in setting standards for the future?
This paper discusses the Mt Polley tailings dam failure and searches for answers to these questions. In particular, this paper reviews the background to “dry-stacking’, to explore the implications for the Australian mining industry.
Keywords: Tailings Dam, Dry Stacking, Best Available Technology
Chris Topham, Andrew Pattle, David Tanner, Oliver Giudici
Many owners around the world have dams that rely on grouted, post-tensioned rock anchors for stability. The anchors were installed during the original construction of the dams or retrofitted to improve stability during their operational life. The use of fully grouted post-tensioned anchors spanned the period of the 1960’s to 1980’s. The main issue with these un-sheathed grouted rock anchors is the question of integrity of the grout column protecting the anchor and concerns about possible corrosion of the high tensile wires from which the cables are constructed. While some of these anchors have corrosion monitoring systems installed, it is difficult to validate such data and there is considerable uncertainty over the condition of such anchors. To compound the problem, replacement of the anchors is technically complex, extremely costly and difficult to justify in the absence of known condition. For example, Hydro Tasmania has recent experience of work to cease reliance on such anchors at Catagunya Dam that cost $41m in 2009. With fifteen dams relying on some form of post-tensioned anchors, Hydro Tasmania has recently taken the unusual step of over-coring and extracting three post-tensioned rock anchors from operating dams in order to assess their condition. In what is believed to be a world first, a 42m long 70 strand high tensile anchor was overcored and removed from Meadowbank Dam in 2014. A further two anchors were successfully extracted from Repulse Dam in 2015, in conjunction with a group of international sponsors with similar anchors. This paper uses the 2015 work to illustrate the methodology used to extract the anchors, outlines the information gained from this unusual work, and presents the results of the condition of the extracted anchors. The paper concludes with some inferences for other owners with similar anchors and suggestions for further work.
Keywords: Grouted, post-tensioned rock anchor, ground anchor, corrosion, over-coring, extraction, dam safety.