Elaine Pang, Robert Fowden
There are numerous established methods available for assessing the consequences of failure for earthen water dams.The estimation of breach dimensions and failure times remains the greatest common area of uncertainty, particularly for dams under 10m in height, where the number of historic records behind the established methods reduces considerably.Also, various factors can have a significant impact on the strength of small dam embankments, potentially contributing to the likelihood of failure.Consequently, failure impact assessments for smaller dams may rely more heavily on the engineering judgement of the responsible engineer. Although the consequences of failure may indeed be lower for smaller dams, the large number of unknown or unregulated dams in some locations means that it can be difficult to quantify their overall contribution in terms of dam safety risk. This paper presents an on-going project to compile and analyse observed small earthen dam failures with the intent of refining existing statistical breach relationships for smaller dams.Context is provided through an overview of DEWS’ investigative program, including the presentation of several case studies which highlight field data collected throughout the program.
Richard Herweynen, Jamie Campbell, Mohsen Moeini
Hydropower storage plays an expanding role in integrated power systems internationally and can enable increased use of intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.With an increased amount of renewable energy within the Australian grid, pumped storage has gained increased focus in the past 2years. Entura have been working with Genex Power Ltd. to investigate, evaluate, optimise and design the Kidston Pumped Storage Project, located at the old Kidston gold mine in Northern Queensland. Through this design process, the final arrangement developed included an upper reservoir turkey’s nest dam to be built on the existing waste rock dump on the northern side of the Eldridge Pit, using the existing waste rock dump material and lining it with an HDPE liner. The original waste rock dump was formed during the mining operation by progressively dumping the waste rock predominantly from the Eldridge Pit excavation, with the haul truck traffic being the only compaction that occurred. Since the closure of the mine about 20 years ago, some consolidation of the waste rock dump has occurred.As a result, the key risks identified for the construction of the turkey’s nest dam on top of the waste rock dump were: (1) the stability of the slopes of the waste rock dump, which were generally at the angle of repose for the rockfill material; (2) the absolute settlement of the waste rock dump as the final dam crest level requires a settlement allowance in excess of the flood freeboard requirements; and (3) the differential settlement as excess differential settlement could cause fatigue stress cracking within the liner.This paper presents the investigation and modelling undertaken to confirm the feasibility of constructing this turkey’s nest dam on top of the existing rock waste dump, utilising the historical data on dumped rockfill dams. The paper also presents the feasibility design developed for the upper storage.
Gavan Hunter, David Jeffery and Stephen Chia
The Main Embankment at Tullaroop Dam in central Victoria is a 43 m high earthfill embankment with a very broad earthfill zone and rockfill zones at the outer toe regions. There has been an extensive history of cracking within the Main Embankment since formalisation of visual inspections in 1987.Widespread cracking has been observed on the crest and downstream shoulder. Cracking on the crest has mainly been longitudinal, but transverse cracks have also been observed. Cracking on the downstream shoulder has comprised longitudinal, diagonal and transverse cracking. In April 2004, a 60 mm wide diagonal crack opened on the downstream shoulder of the left abutment (from crest to toe) and Goulburn-Murray Water constructed a local filter buttress in 2005/06 on the left abutment. In 2011/12 a longitudinal crack opened up on the upper downstream berm toward the right abutment. The crack was initially 15m long and 10 to 215 mm wide, then propagated several months later to 70 m in length, 40 to 50 mm width and greater than 3 m in depth.In May 2011 three piezometers within the earth fill core recorded a very rapid rise in pore water pressure equivalent to 12 to 13 m pressure head above their previous readings. The piezometers were located on the same alignment (upstream to downstream) and were located below the crest and downstream shoulder, and the rise was to levels close to and above the embankment surface. The piezometers then showed a steady fall with time returning to the pre rise levels after 4 to 6 weeks.In 2015/16 Goulburn-Murray Water undertook dam safety upgrade works to reduce the risk of piping through the Main Embankment by extension of the filter buttress across the full width of the embankment. During these upgrade works, very deep (greater than 5 m) and extensive transverse cracks were observed in the embankment over relatively subtle slope changes on the right abutment.Thecracking and pore water pressure behaviour in the Main Embankment at Tullaroop Reservoir present an important case study. The paper provides details on the cracking and postulated crack mechanisms, and the rapid pore water pressure rise and postulated mechanisms. A summary of the upgrade works is also provided.
Zerui Lu, Behrooz Ghahreman-Nejad, Mahdi M. Disfani
Particle characterisation like size distribution and shape can greatly affect the mechanical behaviour of granular materials, and is closely related to the economics for engineering projects. For rockfill material in embankment dam construction, the particle size distribution (PSD) is fundamental to the design, quality control and numerical modelling. Traditionally, particle size distribution for engineering materials is obtained through physical sieving. However, with rockfill material, the size varies significantly and can range from gravels (+2mm) to cobbles (+60mm) and boulders (+200mm) with the maximum size usually limited to 1m, which makes the conventional sieving process considerably difficult to conduct as well as being time-consuming. Meanwhile, the advanced technology in computer image processing has created many possibilities in characterising particles within digital photographs, and therefore can be utilised as an effective alternative to the conventional sieve analysis. This method has been in use mainly in the mining industry over the past two decades to assist with rock fragmentation and process monitoring and control. Notwithstanding, the use of this technique in the dam industry for quality control of rockfill material has been rare. Thus, an innovative approach is proposed in this paper to estimate the PSD curves for rockfill material using image analysis along with the latest developments in aerial photography. The results of PSD analysis using the image processing software Split Desktop are presented and compared with the results from sieve analyses for verification. Recommendations are made to improve the process and increase the accuracy of the outcome. It is demonstrated that the proposed method has a reasonable accuracy and is a viable option for quality control in construction of rockfill structures such as rockfill embankment dams.
Mark Stephen Rynhoud, David Johns and Len Murray
The Hamata tailings storage facility at the Hidden Valley mine is being constructed in a remote, high rainfall, tropical environment in a mountainous region of Papua New Guinea. Implementation of the design hasrequired adapting the design in response to various challenges encountered on the site during the ongoing construction period, based on observations by the designers and site monitoring data which is continuously collected and compared against design assumptions. This paper describes some of the design and construction modifications which have been implemented since construction of the tailings facility started and provides a case history of some of the challenges facing designers and construction crews when mining in remote, tropical conditions.
Tom Ridgway, Chris Topham, Aaron Brimfield
A significant number of dams across Australia are of earthen construction and may be susceptible to internal erosion of their earth core, also known as piping. In January of 2016, during an annual inspection of the Tarraleah No 1 Pond Levee it was found that the embankment was experiencing significant seepage at the toe. Further investigations found actively developing piping holes through the embankment. To better understand the condition of the dam, HydroTasmania’s remote monitoring trailer was deployed to provide telemetered seepage data to further understand the developing issue. It was found that the leakage was increasing dramatically, and carrying suspended core material, resulting in the need for prompt resolution to protect the embankment from further loss of material. A sheet piling wall was installed in the centre of the embankment to cut off the flow of water through the embankment. After the installation of the sheet piling wall, post works monitoring showed the seepage through the embankment reduced to virtually zero, only peaking in rainfall events. This paper outlines the investigation and management of the incident, and the mitigation measures put in place from the time of identification including the use of a sheet piling wall to mitigate a developing piping failure. The paper will conclude with the outcomes of the work and how a similar solution could be utilised for other dam owners in a piping event.