For intraplate regions such as Australia, identifying and quantifying activity on tectonic faults for inclusion in probabilistic seismic hazard assessments can be challenging due to the typically long return period for ground-rupturing earthquakes associated with these structures. Return periods of 10,000’s to 1,000,000’s of years mean that surface displacement evidence is prone to degradation through erosion and burial, and paleoseismological ‘trench’ excavations may not uncover geology old enough to reveal previous events. As a consequence, there is often little or no preserved evidence of past ground rupturing events on these structures. Rather than ignoring faults which show no evidence of neotectonic displacement, we present an alternative approach; in addition to considering active faults (movement in the last 35,000 years) and neotectonic faults (movement in the last 10 Myr) in seismic hazard assessments, we also consider faults which otherwise show no evidence of neotectonic activity but which are aligned favourably with the current stress regime and are therefore potential sources of earthquakes and accompanying strong ground motion.
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Lake Buffalo located on the Buffalo River near Myrtleford in Victoria was constructed in the 1960s as a cofferdam for the then proposed Big Buffalo dam. Consequently, the dam was designed for a short life (<10 years) and design features and criteria for a permanent dam were not implemented.
Critical features include a primary spillway with three vertical lift gates, two outlet conduits located
through the spillway piers, a single upstream valve on each outlet conduit for regulation and isolation, and a multi-part bulkhead which is installed in front of the valves for inspection and maintenance.
With the continued operation of the dam beyond 60 years, upgrades appropriate to a permanent dam have been implemented, including addressing deficiencies with spillway gate hoists lifting equipment and redundancy of the outlet conduit vales. This proved challenging, as the operation of spillway structures does not readily align with industry or Australian Standards. This paper will outline the issues encountered, their resolution and the lessons learnt during this upgrade work.
Millions of dollars are spent on dam upgrade works which are often undertaken to meet the flood security requirements. Prioritisation of the dam upgrade work is based on portfolio risk assessments in which dambreak modelling is an integral part. Concurrent design flow hydrographs of tributaries downstream of dam are required for the assessment of the incremental effect of a dam break scenario. The Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP) neutral concurrent tributary flows can be estimated using a bivariate-normal distribution approach.
This paper examines the underlying assumptions made in the application of the bivariate normal distribution approach using observed and design rainfall data for Avon Dam and its downstream tributary catchments. Synthetically generated data was used to illustrate the impact of the log-normal distribution assumption on the AEP neutral concurrent tributary rainfalls. This paper suggests a modification to the bivariate-normal distribution approach to estimate more unbiased AEP neutral concurrent design rainfalls. The use of historical gridded rainfall in the estimation of inter-catchment rainfall correlation is also demonstrated.
Earthquakes are a well-known threat to the safety of dams. While this threat is subdued for Australian Dams, the potential for earthquake induced failure of a dam requires risk minimisation in the downstream community through monitoring and emergency response procedures. This paper details WaterNSW’s approach to their development of a Seismic Monitoring Strategy which was to align the business and ensure an appropriate post-seismic response.
The strategy also identifies that a proactive approach to seismic instrumentation can be taken to reduce business risk by aiding decision making should a dam be in a damaged post-seismic state.
The interim outcome of implementing the Seismic Monitoring Strategy resulted in a fast emergency
response time and less overreaction/distraction of dam safety resources in insignificant seismic events. There is opportunity for other Australian dam owners to implement similar systems to = WaterNSW and achieve similar results.
Population at Risk (PAR) estimation involves quantification of people who could be exposed to flooding in the event of a dam failure. Conventionally, estimates of PAR involve manual and subjective assessment of individual structures located downstream of dams. To reduce the reliance on subjective judgement and better leverage publicly available population datasets, an automated method of PAR assessment was developed. This approach used the Geoscape dataset of building representations to disaggregate Australian Bureau of Statistics 2016 Census data for a study area around Gawler, South Australia.
Representative day and night spatial distributions of PAR were constructed to characterise the diurnal movement of people between homes and workplaces or other day activities. Flows of people were directly quantified to reduce reliance on high level assumptions regarding exposure. A Random Forest model was used to filter sheds and other unpopulated structures from the Geoscape dataset.
The largest deficiency in this approach is the lack of high detail data to classify building usage. It is recommended that the potential for automation of PAR assessment be continually revisited as more datasets become available.
Investigations into the core material of earth fill dams are undertaken reluctantly due to the potential to cause damage to the embankment. Where investigations are required, Cone Penetration Testing (CPT) is increasingly used to assist with the geotechnical assessment of dam embankments. The risk of hydraulic fracture within embankment core material is well known and procedures are typically adopted to minimise the risk of hydraulic fracture during remediation of the holes. Backfilling is typically done in stages allowing for an initial set of the cement/bentonite grout mixture prior to subsequent lifts.
While the risk of hydraulic fracture is well understood, the lesser known risk of pneumatic fracture is a possibility where certain conditions exist. This paper discusses CPT investigations at Fairbairn Dam, operated by Sunwater in Central Queensland, and the challenges faced in undertaking the remediation of the CPT holes. The potential for pneumatic fracture of the embankment core was highlighted during the investigations and details of alternative techniques adopted for reinstatement of the holes are presented. Recommendations are made to appropriately manage the risk of pneumatic fracture when undertaking CPT’s through embankment core.