Modelling internal erosion within an embankment dam prior to breaching

University essay from KTH/Jord- och bergmekanik

Abstract: There are still uncertainties in the safety of existing embankment dams. For instance, the majority of embankment dams in Sweden were built between 1950s and 1970s, designed and constructed to standards that might be unacceptable nowadays. Particularly, Vattenfall’s records stated that 40% owned embankments dams developed sinkholes (Nilsson, 1999). Moreover, internal erosion and its failure mechanisms of initiation and development are still not fully understood (Bowles et al., 2013). Also, internal threats are difficult to detect and interpret even using new instrumentation techniques. The aim of this Master Thesis is to identify failure mechanisms of embankment dams prior to breaching and hence, verify the reliability of a risk analysis after the breaching of the dam. The methodology consisted of monitoring an embankment dam prone to fail by internal erosion mechanisms. Finally the results were modelled using FEM to identify the risk of internal erosion prior to breaching.

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