Journal of Earth Sciences and Geotechnical Engineering

Geophysical Methods and their Applications in Dam Safety Monitoring

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  • Abstract


    The use of geophysical methods in dam sites investigations and safety monitory has proved their good value and versatility in many earthfill dam sites as early as the 1920s. In the following years great development has occurred in the methods, application procedures and tools used. They may be considered today as good ways for carrying out observation tasks on existing dams in non-intrusive and much faster and cheaper ways than the traditional geotechnical methods. It is possible using them to discover anomalies in the dam body or its foundation at an early stage and allowing quick intervention repair works. These methods seek to register and present variations in the basic geotechnical material properties in dams such as; bulk density, moisture content, elasticity, mechanical properties of rocks, electrical resistivity and mineralogy and magnetic properties and so forth. Such variations can indicate increasing seepage flow, progression in cracks’ sizes, formation of voids, caverns and other instability manifestations. Depending on how any investigation is carried out and the targeted anomaly, there is now selection of these methods such as: Electromagnetic Profiling (EM), Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT), Self- Potential (SP), Ground Penetration Radar (GPR), variety of Seismic Methods (SM) which can be applied using such equipment as in Seismic refraction, Seismic Reflection, Multi Analysis of Rayleigh surface waves (MASW) instruments, or using Refraction Micrometer (ReMi), macro-gravity method, and Cross-Hole Seismic Tomography. In addition, Temperature Measurements and other less used methods can be used like Microgravity measurement, Magnetic Profiling and Radio Magnetotelluric methods. An attempt is made here to cover the details of these methods, their advantages and limitations and to prove their usefulness in many dam sites all over the world. One observed issue is their adaptability to embankment dams more than to concrete dams and their popularity for checking seepage related problems and material changes within dam bodies and their foundations such as formation of voids and sinkholes.

    Keywords: Geophysical methods, Geotechnique, Electromagnetic Profiling, Electrical Resistivity Tomography (ERT), Self-Potential, Ground Penetration Radar, Seismic Refraction, Seismic Reflection, Rayleigh Multi Analysis of Surface Waves, Refraction Micrometer, Cross-Hole Seismic Tomography, Refraction Micrometer.