Lessons From The Lives of Two Dams

J.K. Mitchell

Victor de Mello Lecture

Soils and Rocks, São Paulo, 37(2): 99-109, May-August, 2014 | PDF


Many embankment dams completed during the first six decades of the 20th century have been found deficient relative their ability to resist currently anticipated levels of seismic shaking and probable maximum flood. In this Fourth Victor de Mello Lecture, two recent case histories are described. One is a hydraulic fill structure completed in 1920 that is founded on alluvial material, some zones of which are susceptible to liquefaction. The other is a zoned earth fill dam completed in 1956 that is founded over a channel filled with loose, uncompacted, hydraulically placed tailings from goldmining operations. Each dam has been upgraded in phases over periods of several decades using different strategies and ground improvement technologies to improve stability and reduce failure risks. Several take away lessons from these experiences concerning current risk mitigation strategies, the importance of correct soil and site characterization, and implementation and effectiveness of different ground stabilization and improvement methods are presented.

Invited Lecture, no discussions.