Journal of Earth Sciences and Geotechnical Engineering

Dams Safety and Geology

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  • Abstract 

    Geological hazards that can face dams are very important in deciding their safety and successful performance during their lifetime without excessive and costly repairs. Recognizing such hazards must be made at an early stage of the investigation works. Geological hazards which have caused dam failures or resulted in redundant reservoirs can vary between presence of karsts in the reservoir or in dam foundation, presence of soluble rocks, hidden faults, or the presence of hazardous materials. Learning from case histories of dam failures and incidents is important to avoid problems raised by these hazards. Many such cases are presented in the preceding paragraphs to show the variety of such problems and help understand their nature. These case histories, can help the designer in the selection of the most appropriate type of dam suited for a particular geological condition, avoiding dangerous situations such as but not limited to excessive or differential settlement. Understanding the real conditions of foundation decides also the efficiency, scope and type of foundation treatment. The Teton dam failure given in this paper illustrates one case when such understanding was missing. In any case, the active participation of geologists working with the designers in all stages of dam construction process is very important to eliminate or reduce to safe limits any geological hazard that can the future dam.

    Keywords: Geological Hazards, Geological Investigations, Karsts, Faults, Soluble Rock, Foundation Treatment.