2019 – Nonlinear FE Analysis and Remedial Design of Cracked Dam Monoliths Subject to Large Post-tensioning, Flood and Earthquake Forces

Francisco Lopez , Michael McKay , Jonathon Reid , Nathaniel Selladurai

The Keepit Dam Safety Upgrade Project is being implemented to bring the 54m high concrete gravity dam in line with current guidelines for flood and earthquake loading. Stage 2A of the project involves the installation of two vertical 91 strand post-tensioned anchors on each monolith of the spillway section.

During coring of the anchor head blocks for the vertical anchors, deep cracks were observed across some monoliths, dipping diagonally in an upstream direction. In two of the monoliths the cracks were found to be continuous enough to possibly daylight at the upstream face and form freestanding blocks. If the freestanding blocks postulate is correct, the block stability could be currently relying on the friction of the cracked surface and on the engagement with shear keys of adjacent monoliths, which are provided in the vertical contraction joints.

This paper will explain the complex 3-D nonlinear Finite Element Analysis (FEA) conducted to replicate the conditions of the cracked spillway monoliths during the post-tensioned anchor installation. The nonlinearity captured the expected opening, closing and sliding of the crack, as well as its potential pressurisation, and the residual shear strength retention due to asperities of the crack surface. For the shear keys of the vertical contraction joints, the nonlinearity captured the force-deformation relationship of the plain concrete, up to a brittle failure condition if the shear strength threshold was reached.

The 3-D nonlinear FEA was also used to design the optimum number of Macalloy post-tensioned bars required to stitch the freestanding block to the monolith, so that the vertical anchors can be safely installed. In addition, the remedial design accounted for future extreme design flood and extreme earthquake loading conditions, the latter modelled with a time-history analysis.

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