Introduction to Embankment Dams
June 13, 2017 at 12:00 PM EDT (120 minutes)
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 Live Online Webinar

The overwhelming majority of dams in the world, and also in the United States, are embankment dams. This webinar is intended as an overview of embankment dams, to serve as an introduction for those relatively new to dam safety and a refresher for the more experienced practitioner. The webinar will begin with a review of the history of embankment dams from antiquity to today and comments on today’s inventory of dams. Types of embankment dams and embankment dam failure modes will then be reviewed, followed by discussions of design and construction considerations. Finally approaches to the evaluation of existing embankment dams and common maintenance concerns will be described. After the webinar, attendees will have an overall understanding of the universe of embankment dams, how they are intended to work, problems that can develop, and design, construction, and maintenance approaches to address those problems. Although the webinar is focused on dams, many of the concepts, failure modes, and design, construction, and maintenance issues may be applicable to earthen levees.

Key Takeaways:

  1. An understanding of the long history of embankment dams.
  2. An understanding of the different configurations for embankment dams.
  3. An understanding of potential failure modes for embankment dams.
  4. A general understanding of design and construction considerations for embankment dams.
  5. An understanding of maintenance concerns for embankment dams.

John W. France, P.E., D.WRE

Mr. France is a registered professional engineer who is currently a Senior Consultant with AECOM. He has over 40 years of consulting engineering experience, including service on hundreds of civil engineering projects. For the past 35 years his professional career has been focused on dam engineering and dam safety services. During his career, Mr. France has been the owner’s engineer at the time of serious dam safety incidents at three dams, and he has both prepared EAPs and reviewed existing EAPs for a number of dams. He has served on expert consultant review boards for dam safety projects for the Bureau of Reclamation, the US Army Corps of Engineers, BC Hydro, and Brookfield Renewable Energy.

  1. Introduction
  2. History of Embankment Dams
  3. Types of Embankment Dams
    1. Earthfill
      1. Homogeneous
      2. Modified homogeneous
      3. Zoned
      4. Hydraulic fill
    2. Rockfill
      1. Earth core
      2. Faced – Concrete, asphalt, geomembrane, other
      3. Asphaltic concrete core
    3. Embankments as part of composite dams
      1. Concrete spillways and powerhouses flanked by embankments
  4. Common Appurtenant Structures
    1. Outlet works
    2. Spillways
      1. Principal
      2. Auxiliary or emergency
  5. Embankment Dam Failure Modes
    1. Potential failure modes
      1. Overtopping
      2. Internal erosion
      3. Static instability
      4. Earthquake instability or deformation
    2. Review of failure statistics
      1. Overtopping and internal erosion are the dominant failure modes
  6. Design Considerations
    1. Water retention
    2. Seepage control and internal erosion prevention
    3. Static stability
    4. Seismic stability / deformation
    5. Settlement / Deformation
    6. Foundation treatment
    7. Material sources and placement methods
    8. Monitoring
  7. Construction Considerations
    1. Foundation preparation
    2. Material handling and placement
    3. QA / QC
  8. Evaluation of Existing Dams
    1. Data review
    2. Investigations
    3. Analytical evaluations
  9. Maintenance Concerns
    1. Animals
    2. Vegetation
    3. Erosion
    4. Structural / mechanical deterioration
  10. Summary and Closure