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Open AccessArticle

From Theory to Field Evidence: Observations on the Evolution of the Settlements of an Earthfill Dam, over Long Time Scales

1
Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1XJ, UK
2
School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8LT, UK
3
Power Public Corporation, Athens 104 36, Greece
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Infrastructures 2019, 4(4), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/infrastructures4040065
Received: 3 September 2019 / Revised: 11 October 2019 / Accepted: 15 October 2019 / Published: 23 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Dam Engineering)
Unprecedented flooding events put dams and downstream communities at risk, as evidenced by the recent cases of the Oroville and Whaley bridge dams. Empirical models may describe expected ‘normal’ dam behaviour, but they do not account for changes due to recurring extreme weather events. Numerical modelling provides insights into this, but results are affected by the chosen material properties. Long-term field monitoring data can help with understanding the mechanical behaviour of earthfill dams and how this is affected by the environment over decades. We analyse the recorded settlements for one of the largest earthfill dams in Europe. We compare the evolution of these settlements to the reservoir level, rainfall, and the occurrence of earthquakes for a period of 31 years after first impoundment. We find that the clay core responds to the reservoir fluctuations with an increasing (from 0 to 6 months) time delay. This is the first time that a change in the behaviour of a central clay core dam, as observed from field data, is reported in the international literature. Seepage rates, as recorded within the drainage galleries, are directly affected by cumulative rainfall depths exceeding 67 mm per fortnight. View Full-Text
Keywords: earthfill dam; central clay core; downstream shoulder; settlements; long-term behaviour; reservoir level fluctuations; rainfall; seepage; geodetic monitoring earthfill dam; central clay core; downstream shoulder; settlements; long-term behaviour; reservoir level fluctuations; rainfall; seepage; geodetic monitoring
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MDPI and ACS Style

Pytharouli, S.; Michalis, P.; Raftopoulos, S. From Theory to Field Evidence: Observations on the Evolution of the Settlements of an Earthfill Dam, over Long Time Scales. Infrastructures 2019, 4, 65.

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