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Organized by VNCOLD Hanoi, xx September 2011


M. Ho Ta Khanh (VNCOLD)

RCC Dams Worldwide

Design Criteria and Analysis for Gravity RCC Dams

The same as for CVC gravity dams but with different values for the parameters. Mechanical conditions - Strength and Sliding stability Hydraulic conditions
- Deformation, settlement : FEM analysis - Permeability - Hydraulic gradient

Adopt Vietnamese code if any, but it is possible to use all available codes or guidelines (USA, Canada, GB, France, Germany, Russia, China, Japan, India, etc). No code is better or worse than the others! All these codes are coherent and adopt the same general principles (which are a simplification of the reality). They differ mainly by the presentation and lead to very comparable results! The most important is to adopt homogeneous parameters and criteria (global safety factors and partial safety factors for friction, cohesion and max tensile strength). Dont mix these codes and dont retain, for safety reason, the most unfavourable results! Application with good judgment by experimented engineers is more important than the origine of the code !

The conception of a RCC dam must be adapted to the particularities of the RCC technique (Basic principles)

Use as much as possible the local materials (aggregates, cementitious

materials). Reduce as much as possible the quantities of cementitious materials, in particular the fly ash if it is not available near the site (< 200 km). Adapt the cross-section of the dam to the characteristics of the RCC, and not the opposite! (See examples of the Moroccan and French RCC dams). Each RCC dam must be optimized according to the conditions of the site (flexibility of the design) : avoid to normalize the conception of the dam and the composition of the RCC materials ! Facilitate as much as possible the placement of the RCC: Avoid if possible the structures including large openings.
Separate, if possible the location of the dam and the the powerhouse (example of Long Tan and Salto Caxias HPP). Select the construction equipment adapted to the rate of placement.

If useful, the design can separate the mechanical and the watertight functions.

Design and Construction Trends in the U.S RCC Dams

by F.Y.Abdo (2010)

Perhaps the most notable development in recent RCC gravity dams in U.S.A in the design is: Increasing the dam size in order to reduce the required RCC strength provided an opportunity to use marginal on-site aggregates. Designing the dam to resist full hydrostatic uplift pressure eliminated the need for foundation drains and drainage gallery (for low and medium-sized dam). Eliminating the construction of a stilling basin. The purpose of the next slides is to illustrate these recommendations by some examples of recent RCC dams worldwide.

Flexibility of RCC Dam Designs

Very different cross-sections according to the quality of the foundation, the aggregates, the type and content of the cementitious materials

Longtan Dam (China) 2007

Very good aspect of the downstream face with the GEV-RCC method and an intact core 15 m long in the dam.

No seepage in the gallery

LONGTAN DAM A good example of separation between the dam and the powerhouse. This implementation allows a separation between the CVC and the RCC placements, a continuous regular placement of the RCC and a commissionnig of the 3 first units before the end of construction of the dam (shorter delay than for the powerhouse).

SALTO CAXIAS (Brazil)1998

A good example of separation between the dam and the powerhouse and a RCC without fly ash. Same advantage as for the Long Tan Dam concerning the powerhouse implementation.

Miel I RCC Dam (Colombia) H = 192 m

V = 1 400 000 m3

A good example of a very high dam with cement contents adjusted to the stresses and without fly ash.

MIEL I RCC Dam in a seismic area

RCC cement contents in the different parts of the dam = 85 to150 kg/m3. No fly ash.

Brea II RCC dam in Spain, H= 119 m, V= 1.6 hm3

The largest RCC dam in Europe
Limestone filler used as cementitious material in the mix. Fixed crest spillway. Stepped spillway on the downstream face.

Large crest width to increase the dam volume and lower the max stress.

Rapid Development of Dams in Morocco since 1985

due to RCC advent (low cost and rapid construction)


Number of dams

100 80
RCC advent


40 20 9 0 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 13 20 27







The Aoulouz RCC dam in Morocco

H= 79 m , V= 900 000 m3 First large RCC dam in Morocco (designed in 1987)

1992. End of construction

2011. Flow over the spillway

Construction of the RCC Aoulouz dam in 1990

(Note the aspect of the RCC with low cement content and no flyash)


RCC with 100 kg cement/m3 and clayey fines, no flyash. R365 =10 MPa

Progress in RCC Dams in Morocco since 1987

Various cross-sections of RCC dams No flyash in all the RCC Moroccan dams

Low RCC Dams

Since 1987, the Moroccan experience proved that RCC technique, in place of masonry or CVC, is an economical solution even for low dam (< 30m).

Examples of unconfined compressive strengths for 3 Moroccan RCC dams with additional fines
With100 kg cement/m3 and additional fines (clayey for Aoulouz, limestone for Sidi Sad and high quality limestone for Rmel), no flyash.

25 20
25 20



15 10 5 0 0

15 10 5 0 0 50 100 150 200 250 Aoulouz Days 300 350 Said 400 Sidi


Sidi Said






200 Days





Hassan II RCC dam in Morroco (2005):120 m high, 660 m long

Granit + limestone filler Dmax: 63mm Cement content : 80 to 100 kg/m3 R365 =16 MPa

Hassan II RCC dam: Cross-sections and details

Wirgane RCC dam with gated spillway

H=70 m (2008)
Cement content = 100 kg/m3 with filler. First placement of RCC by the sloped layer method. The advantages of this method were so evident that it was adopted for all the next Moroccan RCC dams, even with medium sizes. Note the 3m high steps on the downstream face corresponding to the height of the10 continuous layers of 0.3m high each.

The Taskourt RCC dam in Morocco (2011)

Low cement content (100 kg/m3), no flyash and no leakage on the downstream face !

Taskourt dam, H= 75 m, L= 416 m

Cross sections through spillway and bottom outlet

Taskourt dam : placement of the RCC by the sloped layer method

Visit of the Taskourt dam


The Tiouine RCC dam (H= 84m) in Morocco 2011

Cross sections through the spillway and the bottom outlet

Production of the inert filler and grading curves of filler and sands
The RCC (100 kg cement/m3, no fly
ash, 7% of inert filler) is placed by the sloped layer method

Tiouine RCC material

Local fine sand and ground inert filler, without fly ash, provide sufficient density, strength and watertightness for the dam, with the minimal cost !

Tiouine dam: Placement of the RCC

(Note the dry aspect of the RCC very easy to compact)

Visit of the Tiouine RCC dam (07/06/2011)

Rizzanese dam (France), H= 40.5 m

An example of RCC dam on weak foundation, low quality aggregates and low percentage of cement, without fly ash.

Rizzanse dam
Spreading the RCC (100 kg of cement/m3 without F.A) on the bedding mix (mortar)

Cementitious content
High paste
(> 150 kg/m3 cementitious material)

Comments 53.4 %
Increase of High paste RCC is due mainly Chinese RCC dams (China has a lot of coal fired thermoplants with low cost of fly ash). Increase of Lean RCC is due mainly to Brazilian RCC dams (The Brazilian RCC dams are far from thermoplants). High increase of the proportion of Hardfill dams (they are not numerous, although very interesting on weathered foundation). Relative decrease of RCD (higher cost, only adopted in Japan). These values reflect the particularities of the site and the conception of the dam but not the proof of the superiority of one technique on the others !

43.3 %

Medium paste
(100 < CM < 145)

21.7 %

16.9 %

Lean RCC
(CM< 99 kg/m3)

12.7 %
0.6 % 18.5 % 3.2 %

13.3 %
2.9 % 12.8 % 0.8 %

Hardfill RCD


Cement + low-lime FA Cement + highlime FA Cement + ground granulated slag Combination of pozzolans (no cement) Cement + natural pozzolans Cement + manufactured pozzolans Portland cement alone Unknown 66.2 % 1.3 % 4.5 % 4.5 %

60.8 %

Cementitious materials

0.9 % 5.1 % 2.1 % Increase of the use of (cement + natural pozzolans), due to the expansion of RCC dams to regions where fly ash (and slag) are not available. Increase of the use of (Portland cement alone), due to the expansion of RCC dams to regions where fly ash (and slag) are not available. Decrease of the use of (cement + lowlime FA), which remains however the large majority of cases.

7.6 % 2.5 %

15.3 % 1.2 %

10.2 % 3.2 %

14.7 %

Cementitious content of Brazilian Dams

Cementitious content of Brazilian Dams


High or low paste content ? All recent RCC materials are in reality High paste content, it is more exact to replace in this classification : paste by cementitious. The cementitious content The cementitious materials include cement and slag but also all the materials that present a pozzolanic reactivity (fly ash, natural or artificial pozzolan, some natural fines and rock powder, etc). The use of powdered aggregates

More and more used everywhere fly ash or pozzolan are too costly.
The use of admixtures in RCC More and more used as they can lengthen the setting time of the RCC (to improve the bonding between the layers) and reduce the water content and consequently the cementitious content.

Use of admixtures
Without admixture
VB (s) Density VB (kg/m3) Mix efficiency at 180 days (MPa)/(kg/m3) Cementitious content in (kg/m3) Retarding admixtures Cost savings (cement) 67 2 540

With admixture
23 2 565 -

Use of a plasticizerretarder admixture (0.8 to 1.12 kg/m3). There is a reduction of VB time up to 40% for the same water content, or a reduction of circa 10% of water content for the same VB time. There is an increase of VB density. There is an increase of the mix efficiency. For the same consistency and compressive strength, the cementitious content can be reduced (15 to 30% ).

0.10 100 120 Construction under high temperature Brazil Morocco

0.13 85 80 To avoid cracks (China) 10 kg/m3 40 kg/m3 -

Use of powdered aggregate in Elk Creek Dam (USA)

The use of fines (in particular limestone powder) is generally very beneficial in the RCC and allows to lower the amount of cementitious materials.


The use of conveyors: the main advantages are the possible high rate of construction and the non pollution of the RCC layers. This use is now almost generalised for the very large dams. The Sloped Layer Method (SLM): this method is at present more and more applied when the volume of RCC to be placed on each layer is large compared with the capacity of the batching plant. The bedding-mix: used generally in particular cases (cold joints between the RCC layers, medium and low paste RCC, etc). The Grout Enriched RCC (GEV-RCC): more and more used for the upstream and downstream faces of the dam and between the RCC and the CVC structures or between the RCC and the foundation. Give very good results, if correctly applied. To obtain a good result, it is necessary that the grout (cement+water or mortar) is poured at the base and/or in the middle of the new layer (or in a small trench dug in this layer), before its vibration by the needles. This technique is valid even with low cementitious RCC (Chraibi 2010).


The cooling of RCC: for low and medium high dams (<100 m) : use of low heat
cement and fly ash if not too expensive, pre-cooling of the aggregates by air, water spraying of the layers, induced intermediate vertical joints (see photo of the upstream face of Nam Theun 2 dam) to prevent crack extension,For high dams (>100 m) : same precautions, plus an ice cooling plant and an internal cooling of the dam, if necessary. The use of geomembrane: can be an interesting solution when the function of watertightness is separated from the mechanics and the stability functions. For example for the low paste RCC (without fly ash) gravity dams, or for FSHD and CSG dams with very low cement contents. Some designers prefer to adopt a gemembrane protected by precast concrete panels for the upstream face of the dam.

Rialp RCC Dam (Spain)

Transportation of RCC by conveyor and swinger : quick placement and clean layer surface !

Some recent Chinese construction techniques for RCC dams

Balambano Dam (Indonesia)

Sommaire Use of Geomembrane Summary

Sommaire UseSummary of Geomembrane

For the Balambano dam the total leakage through the dam is virtually zero (some seepage appeared through the foundation and the abutments) : the geomembrane was thus very efficient for the dam watertightness.

Sommaire Overtopping protection of Summary embankment dam by RCC :

Brownwood Country Club Dam (USA)

Initially 6 m high earth dam First earth dam in USA to receive RCC overtopping protection (1984) Initial Flood = 74 m3/s Revised Flood (PMF)= 330 m3/s Overtopped 6 times since its construction with no damage Volume of RCC = 1 070 m3 placed in 2 days 1/3 of the cost for increasing spillway capacity by traditional method

Two Vietnamese RCC Dams

Dinh Binh Dam


Dinh Binh Dam

Cementitious content of RCC (per m3) Cement (kg) Fly Ash (kg) Sand (kg) A .0.5x2 (kg) A.2x4 (kg) A.4x6 (kg) Water (l) TM-20 (l) P-96 (l)


RCC 150 RCC 200

70 126

175 141

772 746

531 852

219 468

605 0

110 132

1.47 1.6


Cement Materials
1x2, OK6-8M150, coarse aggregate M150, coarse aggregate 2x4, OK6-8 m3 296 251 600

kg/m3 VND


kg/m3 VND

488 095



238 850

457 698

M150, coarse aggregate 4x6, OK6-8



226 100

426 709

RCC MIX , M200 RCC MIX, M150 m3 m3 126 70 110 754 61 530 141 175 97 572 121 100 440 953 408 342

The RCC material costs (2007) are almost the same than the conventional concrete material costs due to : the high percentage of cementitious materials, the similar treatment of aggregates.

Comments about the Dinh Binh RCC

The RCC cost of Dinh Binh dam (as other RCC dams in Vietnam) is high compared with CVC. Why and how to lower it? Not optimal design: the design must optimize the cross-section of the dam, and
avoid as much as possible openings in the RCC. It is unecessary to design several costly watertight barriers in the dam body. The most important is to select an adapted RCC material, to optimize consequently the design and to have a good control during the RCC placement.

High fly ash cost: use fly ash only if there is a thermal powerplant near the site. Too high content of cementitious materials : avoid to normalize a minimum RCC
strength (for example RCC150 or RCC200), as for the CVC! Adjust this minimum value according to the results of each optimization (materials/analysis) of the design. The strengths of the RCC are too large compared to the required strengths. The watertightness of the dam and its durability can be obtained by other cheaper alternatives. The cost of the cementitious material must be lower than 30% of the total cost of the RCC material, it is here almost equal to 50%!

Low rate of construction: improve the organization of the works, adopt as much as
possible a continuous placement.

Poor construction equipment: for dams with large volume (> 1 to 2 millions of m3),
select the RCC transportation by conveyor belt.

Is the RCC always the most economical alternative?

The advantages of the RCC technique are not conclusive for low and medium dams, with large openings, built for flood control.

Son La Dam

Mix Proportions per m3 : Cement PCB 40 = 60 kg/ m3, Pulverized Fly Ash = 160 kg/ m3 Comment:

The required high tensile strength to resist to the design earthquake loadings is linked to the shape of the cross section of the dam.

Son La : The penstocks and the


In this part of the dam, the RCC is

used only in the bottom and, not easiliy, in the upper part, downstream the intake. The placement of the RCC cannot be continuous on the dam. The commissioning of the power house cannot be done before the end of construction of the dam.

Volume, m3
10000 10500 1000 1500 2000 2500 3000 3500 4000 4500 5000 5500 6000 6500 7000 7500 8000 8500 9000 9500 500 0

Accumulated Volume

Total Volume of RCC Produced

Son La Hydropower Project Daily RCC Production from 11 January 08 - 30 April 10

Son La RCC sequence and rate of placement

The placement of the RCC is very discontinuous with peak near 10 000 m3/day (costly construction equipment) and many weeks without placement .

0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000 7000 8000 9000 10000 11000 12000 13000 14000 15000 16000 17000

Maximum Daily Production to Date 9918.75 m3

11-Jan-08 25-Jan-08 8-Feb-08 22-Feb-08 7-Mar-08 21-Mar-08 4-Apr-08 18-Apr-08 2-May-08 16-May-08 30-May-08 13-Jun-08 27-Jun-08 11-Jul-08 25-Jul-08 8-Aug-08 22-Aug-08 5-Sep-08 19-Sep-08 3-Oct-08 17-Oct-08 31-Oct-08 14-Nov-08 28-Nov-08 12-Dec-08 26-Dec-08 9-Jan-09 23-Jan-09 6-Feb-09 20-Feb-09 6-Mar-09 20-Mar-09 3-Apr-09 17-Apr-09 1-May-09 15-May-09 29-May-09 12-Jun-09 26-Jun-09 10-Jul-09 24-Jul-09 7-Aug-09 21-Aug-09 4-Sep-09 18-Sep-09 2-Oct-09 16-Oct-09 30-Oct-09 13-Nov-09 27-Nov-09 10-Dec-09 24-Dec-09 7-Jan-10 21-Jan-10 4-Feb-10 18-Feb-10 4-Mar-10 18-Mar-10 1-Apr-10 15-Apr-10 29-Apr-10
18000 19000 20000 21000 22000 23000 24000 25000

Accu. Volume, m3 in Hundreds

Sinking of the truck in the RCC

Too much paste and water in the RCC. Sufficient water content is required for good bond between the layers but too much water (bleeding and laitance) is detrimental.

Avoid as much as possible the use of trucks on the RCC layers. Use as possible conveyor belt and swinger.

Comparison Long Tan/Son La RCC Dams

Long Tan
Volume of the dam : 6.6 hm3

Son La
Volume of the dam : 4.6 hm3 First concrete placement : April 2007 End of concrete placement : August 2010 Duration of construction : 40 months (115 000 m3/month) Commission of the first unit : December 2010 Delay between the concrete dam dam placement and commission of the first unit : 3 years

First concrete placement : November 2003 End of concrete placement : November 2007

Duration of dam construction : 48 months (137 500 m3/month)

Commission of the 3 first units : May 2007

Delay between the concrete dam placement and commission of the 3 first units : 3.5 years

The Son La Design

1. The fly ash contents a high percentage of L.o.I and it is far from the site. It has to be transported by trucks on roads frequently cut by landslides during the rainy season. It is expensive and depends on an unique Vietnamese provider (Pha Lai powerplant). 2. The most economical alternative is to reduce as much as possible the quantity of fly ash. Is it possible and how to do ? By giving a batter of 0.15 to 0.20 to the upstream face, instead of vertical, it will be possible to reduce the maximal tensile strength (at maybe 0.3 to 0.5 MPa). With this last value of the tensile strength, the max required compressive strength of the RCC can be reduced to 15 MPa. This value of RCC compressive strength (at 365 days) can probably be obtained with only 130 kg of cement* per m3 (and some 7% milled fines) without fly ash, or with 100 kg/ m3 of cement and 50 kg/ m3 of flyash (total=150 kg/ m3 compared with 220 kg/ m3 used).
* This relative high percentage is due to a rather low grade cement (PCB 30 or 40), with then a relative high cost for the transportation.

The volume of the dam will be a little higher but, as the unit cost of the RCC is lower, the total cost of the dam will certainly decrease. To improve the watertightness, the upstream face of the dam could be enriched in cement and fly ash by the GEV-RCC method or by CVC. A light reinforcement mesh can be put, if necessary. Even with 130 kg of cement per m3, the cooling of the RCC will not pose more problems than the present situation, provided the vertical joints are correctly implemented.

Conclusion about some Vietnamese RCC dams

An optimal RCC dam should not be a traditional gravity dam in which the conventional concrete is simply replaced by RCC.

The studies of the RCC materials should be carried out before the design and the analysis of the structure (and not the opposite as in many Vietnamese projects!), as they depend on the most available and economical materials which can be obtained on the site.
The most economical solution is not always the minimum dam volume with a large amount of fly ash whenever this material is not available near the site. The conception of a RCC dam must be flexible and must be optimized among all the possible RCC alternatives (different cross section, RCC composition, RCC zoning, separation of mechanical and watertight functions, etc). Dont adopt the same cross section and the same RCC for all the sites!

A particular type of RCC dam: The Face Symmetrical Hardfill Dam (FSHD) and Cofferdam A new shape : fit with
incompetent or low resistance foundation

A cheap material : hardfill

low cost aggregates natural alluviums mug from excavation soft rock low cement content

Untreated natural alluviums Rio Grande dam in Peru


- low and uniform vertical stress repartition - little change in the vertical stress with reservoir filling, - no tension at the dam heel, - uniform and reduced shear stress at the base with the seismic load - small influence of uplift forces

= 24 kN / m 3

1 C r itical r esultant For ear thquake 0.2 g

40 30

100 m

0 .8

A = 0.63



4 2 3 2

D u l 1F B 2 E m p ty 2 (M P a ) (M P a )
1 C

1 0 0 0 .4 0 1 .0 U p l i f t A = 0 . 8 4 B = 1 . 5 6 C = 2 . 4 0 D = 0 .0 0 F S H D

20 22 14 18

= 23 kN / m 3

100 m

0.7 1

improved stability conditions in case of earthquake and large overtopping

0 .7
= 0.36 Full

10 1

1 C A 2

C ri c a lre s u l ta n t.2 F o rti e a rt h q u a k e 0 g

E m pt y 1 D B

0.40 U plift



= = = =

1.39 1.41 1.15 1.15

Some examples of FSHD and FSH cofferdams: - Cidere and Oyuk FSHD in Turkey
- Koudiat Acerdoune FSHD in Algeria
- Saf Saf FSHD and FSH cofferdam in Algeria



Sommaire Summary

H = 107 m L = 280.60 m V = 1 680 000 m3 (RCC = 1 500 000 m3 , CVC = 180 000 m3 ) Q (Peak Flood) = 3 600 m3 /s Foundation : Micaschist Es = 2.75 to 3.70 GPa Rcs = 3.3 to 15.3 MPa Seismicity OBE = 0.20g MCE = 0.40g RCC cementitious materials : 50 kg/ m3 P.C + 20 kg/ m3 F.A Rc = 6 MPa (180 days) Covered geomembrane upstream

OYUK Dam (Turkey)


H = 100 m L = 212 m Q (Peak Flood 1/10 000) = 530 m3/s Foundation : Gneiss and micaschist Seismicity : OBE = 0.24g MCE = 0.40g Cementitious materials : 50 kg/m3 P.C + 100 kg/m3 F.A Rc = 6 MPa (90 days)

Koudiat Acerdoune (Algeria), H = 121 m, Crest Length = 493 m

A high RCC dam located in a seismic area with low grade aggregates and with very bad foundation (schist and marl) with important rock slides during the construction. This dam was designed and constructed by French consultants and contractors.

Koudiat Acerdoun : Composition and characteristics of RCC

Initial design
Quantity of RCC Cement content Fly Ash content Limestone filler content Required compressive strength Max temperature 1 070 000 m3 77 kg/m3 87 kg/m3 0 19 MPa at 90 days 25C

Final design
1 515 000 m3 140 kg/m3 0 150 kg/m3 11 MPa at 90 days 25C

Choice of a FSHD cross-section to adapt the design to the very low quality of the foundation and of the aggregates, with a reduction of Rc. Replacement of the costly fly ash by a limestone filler ground in situ.

Diversion works for the Saf Saf FSHD (Algeria)

Low protection against flood during the construction

The Q10-yearflood = 890 m3/s, but the capacity of the diversion canal is only 150 m3/s (annual flood).

- In October 2008, a peak discharge flood of 500 m3/s overloaded

the canal capacity and the dam was overtopped with a 1.5 m overflow depth, the base of the dam (3 m) was under construction. - No damage resulted from this flood (no erosion of the crest, the U/S and D/S faces of the dam). The works could start again after a 2 weeks cleaning period.

Failure of the Cua Dat CFRD (Vietnam) during the construction

To minimize the cost of the diversion structures, it was admitted to divert the flow during the wet season of 2007 by only one tunnel (D=9 m) in place of 2 tunnels (D= 11 m) of the initial design, with a possible overtopping of the main dam 25 m higher than the river bed. Unfortunately an extreme flood (8000 m3/s), much higher than expected (5300 m3/s), destroyed the gabion protection, the cofferdam and a part of the dam during the construction (but without serious damage downstream).

Observation about FSHD for dam and cofferdam

1. A FSHD is particularly interesting for the sites with weak foundation, high floods (often difficult to estimate precisely) and in seismic area. A FSHD can be overflowed without serious damage during the construction permitting significant savings in diversion works. FSHD may be consequently an interesting alternative to CFRD for the sites with high floods and highly weathered rocks in foundation. For this reason several FSHD are presently under construction in Morocco in place of the traditional CFRD alternatives (Mr. Chraibi). FSHD (or CSG) cofferdams - as demonstrated by their very good resistance to large overflows - seem to be the best solution in case of overtopped structures, even they may be a little more expensive than an embankment. The failure of the Cua Dat CFRD must not lead to rule out the method of diversion with overtopped structures - which allows generally important cost and delay savings - but to adopt an adequate mode of protection of the downstream slope of the embankment and, if necessary, of its toe and abutments. It is probable that, if the downstream slope of this dam were protected by a downstream FSHD in place of the gabions, the main dam and the RCC would have resisted to the flood or be only superficially damaged.