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A sample survey of small earth dams in southern Australia showed that approximately 10 percent fail by a physical breach, usually associated with dispersive clays. Where information is available, it has been found that other factors combine to induce the failure. Typical failures are described.
Failures of engineer-designed and supervised dams are rare, but two such failures are described. The analysis of the failures, the repairs to the erosion tunnels, and other treatment to prevent further damage are presented. When first refilled, one dam again failed by an erosion tunnel adjacent to the repair section. Further studies led to this dam being completely demolished and rebuilt, using newly developed details for the reconstruction. These details were developed further for a similar new dam, and other details were used for the raising of another small dam.
The experience gained in the earlier cases led to the development of design details and construction techniques for the dispersive clay core of a 48-m-high earth-rockfill dam, and these are described.
clays, dams, failure, dispersions, maintenance, compaction, foundations, design criteria, calcium oxides, stabilization
Associate, Gutteridge, Haskins & Davey, Consulting Engineers Planners Surveyors, Melbourne, Victoria