2021 – Active Fault Assessment for a Proposed Pumped Hydro Energy Storage Project in South Australia

T. I. Mote, N. Vitharana, L. Johnstone, and K. Illangakoon

In Australia, the consideration of faults in seismic design has been captured in recent ANCOLD Guidelines for Design of Dams and Appurtenant Structures for Earthquake. The Guidelines recommend proper characterisation of geologic setting, foundation conditions, seismotectonic setting, and identification of both active and neotectonic faults as input to the seismic design basis for dams in Australia.

A case-study is presented at the proposed Cultana Pumped Hydro Energy Storage Project in South
Australia, summarising a fault assessment in concert with reference design. The progressive assessment of a lineament to a possible active fault to ultimately a non-seismogenic fault, allowed insights in understanding active fault rupture risk and active fault implications as it pertains to siting a dam in Australia. It highlighted the need for proper characterisation of geologic setting and faults based on targeted geotechnical investigations and the challenges in phasing these with an aggressive design program. These insights are relevant to many other projects in Australia either in existence or being planned for construction.

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