Passive rock bolts are commonly used to anchor concrete dams, and they may have a significant impact on stability-evaluations. However, these bolts are often omitted from dam safety analysis due to uncertainties regarding their condition and the size of displacements required in the dam-rock interface to mobilize significant bearing forces in the passive rock bolts. This paper address the latter question by studying the failure process of a small concrete dam anchored with rock bolts. Failure simulations were performed with the increased density method in a finite element model consisting of a dam, the corresponding part of the rock and rock bolts. Two types of approaches are used to simulate the anchorage of the rock bolts; a method where the anchorage to the rock is simulated using a fixed boundary condition; and a method where the anchoring of the bolts are modelled using springs. Depending on the method of analysis, the rock bolts contribute with 40–75% of the load-carrying capacity of the dam. The rock bolts increase the load-bearing capacity of the dam, partly through anchorage forces, but also by keeping the contact surface between rock and concrete together and thereby increase the shear capacity of the interface.
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