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ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 1

OVERVIEW OF GEODETIC DEFORMATION MEASUREMENTS


OF DAMS
Dr. J. M. Reger
School of Surveying and Spatial Information Systems
University of New South Wales
UNSW SYDNEY NSW 2052
J.Rueger@unsw.edu.au
ABSTRACT
After a brief review of the origin and early days of the technique, the present role of geodetic
deformation measurements is discussed. The design of geodetic measurement schemes is then
considered, followed by a review of geodetic measurement, analysis and reporting techniques. An
overview of the important discussions, that need to take place between engineers and surveyors in the
design phase, follows. This covers the definition of the engineering needs and the resolution of
surveying issues.
1 INTRODUCTION
To get a better understanding of the term
geodetic deformation measurements, it is useful
to have a brief look at the origin and history of
this dam monitoring method. In Switzerland,
the construction of (mainly concrete) water
storage dams (for electricity generation) started
in earnest in the 1920s. Since the safety of
dams is very important for the people living
downstream, it is understandable that the dam
engineers wanted to know more about the
behaviour of dams than the earlier monitoring
methods (levelling, clinometers (tiltmeters) and
optical alignment) could provide. The
structural deformation caused by changes in
reservoir (water) levels and (air) temperature
give an excellent insight into the quality and, in
consequence, the safety of a dam. Beginning in
1921, Swiss National Mapping was contracted
by a number of dam owners to determine the
deformation at a number of points distributed
over the dams (Lang 1929). The increased
interest in dam deformation measurements after
the failure of the St. Francis Dam (12 March
1928) in the USA lead to the publication by
Lang on the geodetic method developed in
Switzerland.
The geodetic method was proposed by H. Zlly,
then chief of geodesy at Swiss National
Mapping. Originally, two to three reference
points (survey pillars, downstream) were used to
intersect the object points (survey marks placed
in the downstream face of the concrete dams).
The stability of the reference points
(observation pillars) themselves was checked by
resection from close (relocation points) and
distant targets. Horizontal directions were
measured with (precise vernier) theodolites.
Only one distance was taped. The deformations
were obtained by semigraphic means, using the
differences of values measured in two
consecutive epochs. The settlement of the
structure was either monitored by levelling runs
across the crest and along the base of the dam
or, less often, by zenith angles from the
reference points (pillars) to the object points
(targets on the dam).
Figure 1 (after Fig. 18 in Lang 1929) shows a
typical example of one of the early measuring
schemes for the Schrh-Dam in the Wgital
Valley, about 40 km NE of Zrich
(Switzerland). This concrete gravity dam was
built in 1924, is 112 m high, 156 m long and at
900 m above sea level. 19 object points
(targets) were installed in four rows (horizontal
profiles) and six columns (vertical profiles).
The measurements were taken from the three
reference points (observation pillars). (Pillar
movements of 0.7 mm were noted in these
early measurements.) The points A to C, E to
H in Figure 1 were all used to check the stability
of the pillars (by graphical resection). The
marks A, B, F, G, H are relocation marks at
close range. The more distant marks C, E, J (as
well as the rays to the other pillars) were used
to orientate the arcs of directions on the three
pillars (using weighting according to distance).
Further information on the dam may be found
on the world wide web at www.swissdams.ch.
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Figure 2 (after Fig. 37 in Lang 1929) shows a
three-dimensional representation of the lines of
horizontal and radial deformations in six
vertical and four horizontal profiles of the
Schrh-Dam in the Wgital Valley (Switzerland)
between the zero measurement in May 1925
and second filling and the second emptying of
the dam. The axonometric diagram assumes a
vertical plane for the initial measurements in
May 1925 (reservoir at 860 m above sea level)
and zero deformations at the abutments. The
14 mm maximum deformation in October 1928
before the emptying of the dam was the same as
that of the initial filling (in October 1926).
After lowering the reservoir in March 1929 by
40 m, the dam moved a maximum of 2 mm
upstream. This means that the first filling
caused an irreversible deformation of a
maximum of 12 mm. Subsequently, the dam
showed an elastic behaviour (2 mm for a 40 m
change in water level). Such diagrams can only
visualise the structural movements between two
(or, as here, three) epochs of measurements.
A number of features of the early geodetic
measuring schemes in Switzerland and elsewhere
have withstood the test times:
The Freiberger ball (16.53 mm diameter,
according to Lang (1929)) centring of
instruments and targets and the corresponding
brass centring bolts (with protective cover) are
still used on some dams. (Since about 1973, the
KERN pillar centring plates with a diameter of
158 mm were used on many new dams.)
The basic layout of monitoring targets (in a
grid pattern on the downstream face of
concrete dams) has found wide acceptance, for
example with six vertical profiles and four
horizontal ones. Marks near the abutments are
important if abnormal behaviour is to be
detected.
The measuring precision of directions (in two
faces) achieved in the early surveys was
excellent with better than 1" in most cases and
has not changed since then.
Figure 1: Typical example of an early geodetic deformation measuring scheme: Schrh Gravity
Concrete Dam in the Wgital Valley, about 40 km NE of Zrich (Switzerland). Two of the 19 object
points are labelled (1a, 6a). Pillars 1 to 3 are the reference points, the marks A, B, F, G, H are
relocation marks and the marks C, E, J are (distant) targets used for orientation purposes (after Fig. 18
in Lang 1929)
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The (up to four) relocation targets near
pillars for the check of the stability of the
pillars are not always installed on newer
schemes even though they are useful to monitor
the pillar behaviour against the surrounding
ground.
The use of concrete pillars (0.5x0.5x1.15 m
at the time) was very successful. Today one
prefers round double skin concrete pillars which
minimise mechanical damage of the inner core.
The inner pillar is shaded and, thus, moves less
with the sun.
Lang (1929) noted that 20 to 30 rays can be
measured within the same arc of horizontal
directions because of the good stability provided
by concrete pillars.
Each reference point should have clear sights
to at least four orientation marks. He also
suggested that, in an arc of horizontal
directions, 50 % of rays to reference points
should be measured first, followed by all object
points and, then, the rest of reference points.
Two arcs of directions should always be
measured (for full geodetic measurements). The
early Swiss experience was that measuring 4 arcs
does not improve the results.
Some features of the early schemes however
changed over the years:
The (two to three) observation pillars were
originally placed at about mid height of the
dam. Today, more observation pillars are
installed up- and downstream of the dam. This
requires that some pillars are higher than the
dam.
The distant targets (used originally for the
orientation of arcs on the pillars) have been
dropped in newer schemes.
The targets on the dam featured white
vertical lines (straight or conical) on a black
base. Later, this was changed to concentric
circles (see (4) in Fig. 20).
The targets that were inserted into the
centring bolts of pillars originally carried
vertical lines. Later designs featured concentric
target patterns (see (3) in Fig. 20) or, even
better, brightly coloured spherical balls (Fig.
27).
Figure 2: Three-dimensional (axonometric) representation of the lines of horizontal and radial
deformations in six vertical and four horizontal profiles of the Schrh-Dam in the Wgital Valley about
40 km NE of Zrich (Switzerland) between the zero measurement (May 1925) and the measurements
immediately before (October 1928) and after (March 1929) the first draw down of the dam (after Fig.
37 in Lang 1929)
For t he earl y geodet i c deformat i on
measurements in the 1920s, National Mapping
of Switzerland tested a number of ways on how
to present the results of geodetic measurements
on dams. A number of them are still being used
today. Particularly useful and visual are the
representations of deformation lines. Figure 2
gives an example (after Lang 1929) of an
a xonome t r i c 3- D r e pr e s e nt a t i on.
Unfortunately, such diagrams can only visualise
the structural movements between two (or,
possibly, three) epochs of measurements. The
lateral and tangential movements have to be
plotted separately.
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The early publication by Lang (1929) contains
many other useful suggestions for the design of
monitoring networks and the execution of
surveys. The author warns of lateral refraction
(affecting lines of sight close to ground or
structures) and the huge refraction problems
experienced when measuring along the crest
(caused by the bending of the up- or
downstream winds over the crest and the strong
temperature gradients associated with it). This
is a reason why optical alignment on the crest is
not considered suitable for highest precision. If
optical alignment is to be used, Lang (1929)
suggests to place (on the abutments) the
instrument and reference target higher than the
crest.
2 ROLE OF GEODETIC
MEASUREMENTS IN THE
MONITORING OF DAMS
According to the Swiss Commissioner for Dam
Safety (Biedermann 1996, 1997), the geodetic
dam monitoring techniques have become less
attractive over the years, firstly, because they
require skilled personnel and, thus are expensive
and time consuming and, secondly, because
direct mechanical measuring devices such as
pendulums and wire alignment systems (that can
be operated by less skilled dam based staff) have
become available. The geodetic techniques are
still very important since they produce absolute
data and connect the localised dam based
measuring devices to the dam's foundations and
the area surrounding the dam (and, possibly,
slopes along the reservoir). These days, the
geodetic measurement scheme provides the
foundation for the measurements in the case of
an abnormal behaviour of the dam and is
measured infrequently.
To assure the safety of a dam, three elements
are necessary (Biedermann 1996): safe state-of-
the-art design of the construction, monitoring
of the structure and an emergency concept. It
could be argued that, in line with the first
requirement, the dam should be measured during
the first filling and emptying to test if the
actual deformations agree with the expected
deformations. The monitoring must be able to
detect damages, constructive deficiencies and
threats to safety so that an abnormal event can
be detected and responded to (Biedermann
1996).
The Swiss Commissioner for Dam Safety
(Biedermann 1996) suggests that the
monitoring of dams be carried out as follows:
Visual Inspection ( once a week). Since not
all threats to the safety of a dam and reservoir
can be captured by measurements, a visual
inspection by persons familiar with the
structure is essential. The visual inspection
must cover the dam, its surroundings and, if
necessary, the slopes along the reservoir
Measurements ( once per month) of key
indicators of the behaviour of the dam, its
underground and its surroundings (including
slopes along the reservoir, if necessary). This is
acceptable since abnormal behaviour of
structures and terrain usually develop slowly.
The knowledge of the radial displacement at
one or more points along the crest is sufficient
for this purpose. On concrete dams, these
frequent measurements are typically carried out
by on-site personnel with direct measuring
devices, such as pendulums, wire alignment
systems, clinometers, extensometers, etc. Such
measurements are very precise, simple to make
and cost effective. Automatisation of this type
of measurements and on-line recording and
inspection is easily possible, if so desired or
required.
Periodic Safety Examination (large dams:
every 5 years, small dams: when required).
Biedermann (1996) suggests that a reduced
measuring program of the installed geodetic
network be measured during these five yearly
safety checks of the dams. Ideally that should
be at full reservoir and at the same time of the
year since seasonal effects are often more
pronounced that changes caused by water level
in the reservoir. It is further suggested to
measure the complete geodetic network every
15 years when the reservoir is empty.
It follows that the Swiss authorities see the role
of geodetic measurements mainly as a
measuring base from which more specialised
measuring schemes can be developed should an
abnormal behaviour of the dam be detected by
other means (visual inspection, direct frequent
measurements of key indicators). A three-
dimensional network is required to determine
radial and tangential movements, settlements
and rotations of the dam as well as deformation
of the surrounding terrain. In the case of an
emergency, measurements are taken more
frequently and the monitoring scheme might be
extended. Important is that a fundamental
geodetic network, covering all relevant parts of
the reservoir (dam, abutments, foundation,
surroundings, and, if required, slopes along the
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reservoir, unstable rock masses and (in other
parts of the world) unstable glaciers) has been
installed, is being maintained and measured
infrequently (e.g. every 15 years) to provide a
reference (zero-epoch).
If the dam experiences snow fall in winter, the
design of the full geodetic measuring scheme
should ensure that the measuring points of the
network are accessible in winter as far as
possible. Naturally, dams with galleries at
different levels (ideally extending into the
abutments on both sides and equipped with wire
alignment or survey precision traverses and
levelling networks) and vertical shafts (with
pendulums, ideally extended into the foundation
with inverted pendulums) are best suited for
measurements under snow cover.
Figure 3: Principle of a geodetic deformation measurement network for concrete dams. Inside the
dam the network comprises three pendulums and one inverted pendulum as well as three surveying
traverses in galleries at three levels. The interior network is in a vertical plane. The exterior survey
network is essentially in a horizontal plane at crest level with a number of targets on the crest
(connecting the pendulums to the exterior net) and a number of reference points up- and down-stream.
The exterior network is measured by directions, zenith angles, distances and/or GPS. Some levelling
lines at the crest level are also shown, as is an additional survey network at a lower level. (After
Biedermann 1985)
Figure 3 (after Biedermann 1985) shows the
basic layout of a geodetic deformation
measurement network for straight or curved
concrete dams. It features measurements in two
planes. In a vertical plane (may be curved), the
network comprises three pendulums and one
inverted pendulum as well as three surveying
precision traverses in galleries at three levels.
If the dam is straight, a wire alignment system
can replace the surveying traverses in the
galleries. Ideally, the galleries should extend
into the abutments to provide an additional
absolute reference. As shown, an absolute
reference is provided in the interior network by
an inverted pendulum reaching into the
underground.
The basic exterior survey network in Fig. 3 is in
a horizontal plane at crest level with a number
of pillars on the crest (connecting the
pendulums to the exterior net) and a number of
reference pillars up- and down-stream. The
exterior network is measured with electronic
tacheometers (by directions, zenith angles and
distances) and/or GPS. Some levelling lines at
the crest level are also shown, as is an
additional survey network at a lower level.
Essential is that the interior and the exterior
networks are interconnected as shown by the
large circles in Fig. 3. The interior network
(vertical plane) and the exterior network
(horizontal plane) are connected at three points
on the dam's crest. The levelling lines are
connected to the reference points of the other
survey measurements. As mentioned before,
the network might have to be extended if the
reference points shown are still in the influence
zone of the dam and/or if the ground near the
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dam and/or the slopes along the reservoir need
to be monitored too. With the Global
Positioning System (GPS) the network can
easily be extended to cover a wider area without
requiring inter-station visibility.
It follows from the earlier considerations in this
section that at least one pendulum and the
inverted pendulum be measured every month,
the interior network (pendulums, traverses in
horizontal galleries) every five years and the
full network every fifteen years or so.
Figure 4: Wire alignment system installed in
the parapet of a gravity dam. Pulley and weight
are seen on the right. The measuring point is
on the left. The measuring microscope is
attached to the big bolt seen above the wire.
After Biedermann (1997, Fig. 2.10).
Since most dams in Switzerland are concrete
dams, the discussion above (and Fig. 3) are
tailored for this type of dam. Embankment
dams (deck type or fill type) and small concrete
dams do not have internal galleries and vertical
shafts. This means that the interior network
shown in the vertical plane in Fig. 3 needs to be
configured as an equivalent grid of object points
on the downstream face of the dam. Rather
than run traverses along berms, the object
marks on the downstream face are connected to
the reference points by standard surveying
measurements (horizontal directions, slope
distances and zenith angles) or, possibly, by
satellite measuring techniques (e.g. GPS). That
poses no problems for the (reduced) geodetic
measurements every five years and the full
measurements every 15 years.
The remaining problem with embankment dams
(or, generally, dams without galleries or shafts)
is the simple measurement of critical
parameters at monthly intervals. Biedermann
(1997) suggests a wire alignment system along
the crest. This is possible for straight concrete
faced rockfill dams with crest/parapet wall, for
example (if the settlements are not too large!).
Since wire alignment systems are rarely seen in
publications, the system installed within the
parapet of the Rempen gravity dam in
Switzerland is shown in Fig. 4. (More
information on the dam can be found at
www.swissdams.ch.) The wire is tensioned by a
heavy weight through a pulley system. When
not in use, the measuring points and the weight
are protected by panels.
Figure 5a: Simple measurement of angles
from two reference points (Pillars 1, 3) to
object points (42, 44, 46) on the crest of the
Chapfensee/Parmort (gravity) dam in
Switzerland. The upstream-downstream
movements of the object points 42, 44, 46 are
computed from the changes of the measured
angles (and, as a check, from the measured
angles ). After Egger & Walser (2005, Fig.
2.06-1).
Alternatively, the optical alignment of one or
more crest point(s) is feasible or the
measurement of some distances from a pillar
downstream to some object points on the
downstream face of the dam or the intersection
of one or few crest points by simple angle
measur ement or cl i nomet er / t i l t met er
observations on the upstream face. An
arrangement of simple angle measurements is
shown in Fig. 5a for the Chapfensee (Parmort)
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Dam in Switzerland. The reservoir is located 4
km west of Sargans and features two dams.
Since only the northern one (120 m long and
20 m high) is listed at www.swissdams.ch, it is
assumed that Fig. 5a refers to the northern dam.
Further information on the dam may be found
on the world wide web at www.swissdams.ch.
On slim and strongly curved arch dams (with no
pendulums) simple vertical angles (or zenith
angles) can be measured to bull's eye (circular)
targets on the dam that face downwards. See
Figure 5b. Because of the quasi-vertical line of
sight, a change in the zenith angle is a measure
of an upstream/downstream displacement of the
dam (after multiplication with the height
difference (assumed known) from the pillar to
the mark). One-second theodolites with
diagonal eyepiece are used for the purpose.
According to Egger & Walser (2005), qualified
personnel is required for this type of
measurement that is simple in principle but not
in practice.
Figure 5b: Simple measurement of vertical
angles from an observation pillar at the base of
the dam to object points (11 to 16) on the
downstream face of slim double curvature arch
dams. The upstream-downstream movements
of the object points 11 to 16 are computed
from the changes of the measured vertical
angles (and the known distance from the
pillar). After Egger & Walser (2005, Fig. 2.06-
2).
Some of these alternatives require some training
in surveying of dam staff. The problems
associated with optical alignments were already
known in the 1920s. Biedermann (1997) cites
some tests by the Swiss Federal Institute of
Technology (ETH) in Zrich with optical
alignment that exhibited errors of ten seconds
of arc (10", 14 mm/300m) on a Swiss dam.
Given the reduced precision (compared to
pendulum observations in concrete dams) of the
monthly simple observations on dams without
galleries or shafts, Biedermann (1997)
recommends geodetic measurements (of the
dam face) at least once a year (rather than
every 5 years).
3 DESIGN OF GEODETIC
DEFORMATION SCHEMES
The design and measurement of geodetic
deformation schemes have been described many
times. The reader may refer to the following
publications for a more detailed discussion, for
example: Swiss National Committee on Large
Dams (1997, 1993, 1985), Egger & Keller
(1976), Keller (1978), Kern (1971), Untersee
(1951, 1975).
Based on his extensive experience with
deformation measurements, Egger (1997, 1993)
gives some sound advice on terrestrial
measurements of deformations. The
monitoring scheme must be designed for a long
service life of more than 50 years. The
geodetic network must be as complete as
possible and allow for later extension (in case of
abnormal behaviour or new construction work).
Close collaboration between engineers and
surveyors is essential and should begin as early
as possible in the preliminary design phase since
the location of pendulums, galleries, wire
alignment systems, etc. must allow connections
to the geodetic measurement scheme. The
measuring scheme should be flexible enough to
allow the adoption of new measuring techniques
later.
The reference points must be close to the dam,
both upstream and downstream, outside the
influence zone of the structure, must have
inter-visibility and, ideally, must be accessible
all year round. Experience shows that one to
two points in each scheme become unreliable
with time or get destroyed (e.g. by construction
activity, rock fall, avalanche). Egger (1997,
1993) considers four reference points an
absolute minimum. The reference points
feature normally deeply anchored double-walled
concrete pillars with a forced centring device
that is protected from the elements and
vandals. Brackets for the attachments of
umbrellas are helpful. In exposed locations, the
pillar must be inside a concrete shelter that
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protects from possible rock falls, avalanches,
land slides and the like. Four relocation marks
at close range are useful to check for pillar
movements (by resection, against the
surrounding terrain). If satellite measurements
(e.g. using GPS) are planned, then there should
be no obstructions above an elevation angle of
15-20 degrees and no reflecting surfaces nearby.
Unfortunately, the water in the reservoir is a
perfect microwave reflector.
Figure 6: Connection of the horizontal
position of the pendulum to the exterior
geodetic network. The pendulum is 'measured
in' from 'C'. The point 'B' is established
vertically above 'C' by optical plumbing. After
that, 'B' can be measured in from the pillar 'A'.
The object points are placed so that they
provide information on the behaviour of the
structure (and its surroundings, if required). The
object points can be pillars on the crest of the
dam (with forced centring system), brackets
(with forced centring system), bolts (with
forced centring system) in the ground. Object
points must be able to be surveyed with
conventional surveying techniques. Since these
include distance measurements, EDM reflectors
must be able to be fitted (temporarily) to the
object points and the object points should be
accessible all year round. If object points must
be established on the downstream face of
concrete dams (because the dam lacks
pendulums and galleries), they are usually
circular targets on brass bolts and observed by
the traditional intersection method. Egger
(1997, 1993) does not favour inaccessible
reflectors in dam walls since they become dirty
and the reflecting surfaces deteriorate with
time, particularly in a humid climate. Usually,
the deformation measurement scheme also
includes some object points ('bench marks') that
are only determined in height (by levelling).
Figure 7: Observation platform on the
downstream face of the Gigerwald arch dam in
Switzerland. (Photo by Kern & Co Ltd Aarau,
Page 62, Swiss National Committee on Large
Dams 1985)
Object points located inside the galleries (of
concrete dams) provide the most accurate
vertical and horizontal movements. Unless the
traverses in the galleries extend into the
abutments, they must be connected to the
exterior network to provide absolute
deformation information. The preferred
method is to connect the gallery traverses to
the pendulums and the top (anchor points) of
the pendulums to survey pillars on the crest.
Figure 6 shows an early version of this
approach (Egger & Keller 1976). The
connection of the pendulums to the outer
network can be simplified if the anchor points
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of the pendulums are at (or near) the crest
level.
Egger (1997, 1993) considers the alternative
method of connecting the galleries to the outer
network through openings (see Fig. 7) in the
downstream face less desirable. As in tunnel
work, the measurements from the outside to the
inside of the dam usually suffer from large
horizontal refraction effects.
Figure 8: CERN forced centring system with
central 30 mm bore. Fits (directly) reflectors
and targets (shown) fitted to Taylor-Hobson
spheres as well as the DISTINVAR invar
measuring device. Standard surveying
equipment can be attached (and locked!) in the
centring device with adaptor plates fitted with
the customary 5/8 inch Whitworth thread on
top (see Fig. 25). The Taylor-Hobson target
with concentric circles shown in the figure is
not part of the device proper.
For the terrestrial measurements, theodolites,
electronic distance meters and levelling
instruments are typically used, the former two
often combined in the form of electronic
tacheometers. Typical theodolite precisions
are 0.7" for directions, 1" for zenith angles
and (0.1 mm + 0.7 ppm) for the Kern
Mekometer ME5000 precision distance meter.
Egger (1997, 1993) quotes levelling with 0.1
mm/station. For the internal traversing
networks, invar wires are/were often used,
recently in the form of the DISTINVAR
originally developed by CERN (European
Organization for Nuclear Research). According
to Egger (1997, 1993) the DISTINVAR
achieves 0.02 mm in routine measurements.
The DISTINVAR requires the CERN centring
system (with a 30 mm diameter centring
cylinder) which is commercially available in its
or i gi nal or si mpl i f i ed f or ms ( see
www.geodesie.com). The original CERN
centring system (in three parts to allow to
make the central cylinder vertical) is made out
of aluminium alloys and shown in Figure 8
(after CERN 1974).
Measurements with motorised electronic
tacheometers with automatic target recognition
allow to measure under computer control to
reference and object points that are equipped
with EDM reflectors. If instruments are
installed permanently (in weather proof and
vandal proof observation buildings), continuous
measurements are possible. Remote control is
available if the communication links are
installed. Continuous monitoring systems are
very costly since they require substantial
installations and maintenance and permanently
tie down an expensive instrument. Egger
(1993, 1997) notes that, ' in certain
circumstances, this is entirely justifiable'.
During the measurement of the network (called
one epoch of measurements), a predetermined
observation plan should be followed and the
observations should be carried out according to
the rules of good professional practice as it
applies to precision surveys. The observation
procedures have to be designed in such a way
that obvious errors are detected on site and that
they can be remedied on the spot. That might
require some preprocessing of data in the
evenings. (Should errors be found later in the
office during processing, it is too late to take
additional measurements.) It is customary, to
use always the same equipment (in the same
orientation) on the same reference and object
points since this eliminates some systematic
errors in the deformations that are being
determined. If electronic data recording is being
used, daily back-up of the data to other
recording media should be carried out.
Irrespective of the type of equipment used,
some aspects are always important (Egger
1997, 1993):
height of instruments, targets, reflectors,
antennas above mounting plate
atmospheric parameters (temperature,
pressure, humidity), weather, reservoir level
Misalignments, scale errors and eccentricities
of instruments, targets, reflectors, staffs,
antennas
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Figure 9: Geodetic deformation network of the Mattmark embankment dam in Switzerland (height:
120 m, length: 770 m). The points marked 210 (and 600, 650) are concrete pillars from which the
measurements to the object points (marked by circles) are taken. The reference points 2,4,7 and 9 are
presumed to be outside the stress zone. Some targets (11 -21) mounted on rock faces were originally
used for the orientation of arcs. The rows of points (numbered 651 to 958) were used to investigate
some abnormal behaviour and are not part of the continuing observation scheme. After Kgi (1978,
Fig. 1).
avoidance or elimination of other systematic
errors affecting the measurements.
Ideally, the reservoir level should be kept
constant during the measurements of one epoch
of data. Even so, daily readings of all direct
measurement devices (e.g. pendulums) and of
water level should occur. Simultaneously with
the geodetic measurements, all other types of
monitoring devices should also be read to allow
the correlation of the results.
Having discussed some important principles of
geodetic deformation measurements, it is
appropriate to look at some practical examples.
Figure 9 depicts the inner (on the dam) and the
outer geodetic networks of the Mattmark
embankment (fill) dam high in the Swiss Alps.
The dam is in the Canton Valais, 17 km east of
Zermatt and 23 km ENE of the famous
Matterhorn mountain. It has a height of 120
m, a length of 770 m and a volume of 10.4
million cubic metres. The maximum reservoir
level is at 2197 m above sea level.
Observations (directions, zenith angles and,
these days, distances) are taken from the points
210 (double-walled concrete pillars). (The
pillars 600 and 650 were only used
temporarily.) Four of the nine observation
stations (2, 4, 7, 9) are reference points on the
sides of the valley and likely stable. Pillar 10 is
on the dam to improve the geometry of the
network. It is subject to deformations like the
other points on the dam. Object points are on
both faces of the dam and on the crest. Those
on the upstream face are often under water.
According to Gilg (1985), there is a total of 98
object points on the dam. Not all of them are
shown in Fig. 9. An additional 11 object points
are in the drainage gallery in the base of the
dam and not shown. There are also 35
(levelling) bench marks in the monitoring
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 11
scheme. (Only some are shown in Fig. 9.)
More information on the Mattmark Dam can
be found in Kgi (1978), Gilg et al. (1982), Gilg
(1985) and at www.swissdams.ch. Biedermann
(1997, Fig. 2.8) gives an updated plan of the
Mattmark network: There is now a second
observation pillar on the dam, the targets on
the rock faces are no longer shown nor are the
rows of dense points for the temporary special
observation scheme.
The modern internal network of a gravity
concrete dam in Switzerland is shown in Figure
10. The Panix (Pigniu) Dam was commissioned
in 1989, is 53 m high and 270 m long. The
reservoir is 32 km east of Chur in the Canton
of Grisons and at an elevation of 1450 m above
sea level. This dam monitoring scheme follows
the recent trend and has no object points on the
dam's faces. There are only three survey pillars
on the crest to connect the interior net (of
Figure 10: Interior geodetic deformation network of the Panix (Pigniu) gravity dam in Switzerland. 1:
survey pillars on crest to connect the interior to the exterior network. 2: wire alignment, 350 m long.
3: pendulums. 4: inverted pendulum. 5: alignment reading points (one in each block and in the
abutments). 6: pendulum reading points. 7: floating intermediate deformation network of the Panix
gravity dam in Switzerland. After Biedermann (1997, Fig. 2.7).
Figure 11: Interior measuring scheme of the Gigerwald Dam in Switzerland showing the four normal
and four inverted pendulums as well as the three galleries with the traversing surveys. The lower
diagram in Fig. 11 shows the uppermost gallery and its traverse stations at 32 m intervals (length of
invar wires). Three pillars ('A') on the crest connect the uppermost traverse to the exterior network as
do three pillars ('B') on little balconies in the downstream face. After Biedermann (1997, Fig. 2.6).
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 12
pendulums and wire alignment) to the exterior
one. The up/down stream deformations are
measured by the pendulums and the wire
alignment, the sideway movements by the
pendulums. It has to be assumed that the
vertical movements are monitored by levelling
in the gallery and/or on the crest.
For completeness, the geodetic monitoring
network of the Swiss Gigerwald double curvature
arc dam is shown in Figures 11 and 12 even
though the layout has been shown many times
before (Keller 1978, Egger & Keller 1976,
Egger 1993 1997, Biedermann 1997 1993).
The Gigerwald Dam was commissioned in 1976,
is 147 m high and 430 m long. It is about 15
km SW of Chur, Switzerland, and at 1335 m
above sea level. Figure 11 depicts the internal
measuring scheme of four normal and four
inverted pendulums as well as three galleries
with traversing surveys (originally: angles by
theodolite and distances with invar wires). The
lower diagram in Fig. 11 shows the uppermost
gallery and its traverse stations at 32 m
intervals (length of invar wires). The traverse
stations in the galleries consist of steel brackets
attached to the walls carrying a simplified
version of the CERN centring system (Fig. 8).
The DISTINVAR measuring device fits the
CERN centring directly. The rest of the survey
equipment uses appropriate adaptors. Keller
(1978) shows most of the equipment used on
the dam in the late 1970s. The internal
network is connected to the external network
(shown in Fig. 12) by three pillars (see Fig. 13)
on the crest (connecting to three points of
the uppermost traverse using the procedure
Figure 12: 'Complete' exterior measuring scheme of the Gigerwald Dam in Switzerland (Scale: Distance
2-3 = ~395 m). 1: Observation stations. 2: reference points (presumed stable). 3: Pillars on crest (603,
611, 621). 4: Pillars on platforms in the downstream face (207, 211, 215). 6: Rock monitoring points
(1F to 5F). 7: Close range relocation marks. 8: point number and elevation. 9: reciprocal and one-way
measurements of directions, zenith angles and distances. Tamina is the name of the river in the valley.
After Biedermann (1997, Fig. 2.6). Since 1997, the network was extended by two stations about 550 m
upstream. (Refer to Fig. 4 in Egger & Walser 2005)
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 13
outlined in Fig. 6) and by three pillars on
platforms in the downstream face (Fig. 7 shows
one of these connection pillars denoted by B in
Fig. 11.)
Figure 13: KERN Mekometer ME5000
precision distance meter on Pillar 603 of the
Gigerwald Dam (Aeschlimann 1988, Kern
1988). The top of the pillar with the KERN
pillar centring plate is normally protected by a
steel cover fitting onto the steel ring visible on
the outer pipe.
Figure 12 shows the 'complete' exterior
measuring scheme of the Gigerwald Dam in
Switzerland. (Fig. 4 in the 2005 publication of
the Swiss National Committee on Dams shows
that, since 1997, the Gigerwald Dam network
was extended by two reference stations, about
550 m upstream from the dam.) The dark lines
indicate the primary geodetic network between
the four reference points (1, 2, 3, 4) and the
three pillars on the crest. The additional rays
connect the three pillars in the downstream
face (207, 211, 215) and the rock monitoring
points (1F to 5F). Measurements are only
taken to the rock monitoring points but not
from them. According to the photos in Keller
(1978) all marks of the outer network on the
Gigerwald arch dam are equipped with the Kern
pillar centring plates of 158 mm diameter (see
Figs. 13 and 24). The rock monitoring points
feature centring plates that are attached to
heavy duty steel brackets. Keller (1978) gives
also the diagram of a 'reduced' exterior
measuring scheme of the Gigerwald Dam, with a
selection of measurements from Pillars 211 and
1. This example of a complete and a reduced
measurement scheme is useful when selecting
reduced schemes on other dams.
4 RESULTS OF GEODETIC
MEASUREMENTS: ANALYSIS
AND REPORTING
In the early days of geodetic dam deformation
measurements (in the 1920s), pocket
calculators, and computers in general, were not
available; least squares adjustments had to be
carried out by hand using logarithm tables. No
wonder that the analysis of dam deformation
measurements was carried out with semi-graphic
means that was much faster and sufficiently
accurate. Today, most survey data are recorded
digitally. The subsequent processing of the data
is done on personal computers.
Whereas the early geodetic measurements on
dams involved only horizontal direction,
levelling and, possibly, zenith angle
observations, today's data are likely to include
electronic (and/or invar wire) distance
measurements and, increasingly, GPS
measurements. EDM measurements require
some preprocessing to account for ambient
temperature, pressure and humidity. Also, the
earlier derivation of the deformations from the
change (between measuring epochs) of the raw
observations was replaced by the execution of
least squares network adjustments of two epochs
and the derivation of the deformations from
the change in coordinates between epochs.
This evolution from simple differences of
measurements to changes in coordinates
(determined by least squares network
adjustments) has some serious consequences,
that should not be overlooked.
As with all geodetic network adjustments, all
observations must be reduced to a common
datum or coordinate system before the network
can be adjusted. In the case of dam deformation
networks, a local x-y coordinate is usually
adopted, typically with a false origin to avoid
similar x and y coordinates in the project area.
Essential is that the reference elevation of the
horizontal coordinate system is clearly defined
and that all distance measurements are reduced
to this reference elevation (being a spherical
surface). The reduction of measured slope
distances to the reference elevation is not
trivial; it can be based on measured zenith
angles or the elevation of the terminals of the
lines (Reger 1996).
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 14
Since surveying instruments are levelled at each
set-up (so that the direction of vertical axis
coincides with that of the plumbline), any
deviation of the local vertical (plumbline
direction) from the normal to the datum surface
must be considered. In alpine areas these
'deviations of the vertical' can be significant
and, if ignored, can affect the coordinates and
precisions obtained by network adjustments. It
might be necessary to model (in the least
squares adjustment) the deviations of the
vertical or to correct the measurements before
the adjustment.
In most cases, the horizontal measurements are
adjusted (in the local x-y coordinate system)
separately from the height (difference)
measurements. Typically, levelling data and
height differences (computed from zenith
angles and slope distances) are used in the latter.
So, essentially, the adjustments of the data
occur in 2+1 dimensions.
If the geodetic deformation measurements
include GPS data, then the network adjustment
becomes more involved. Schneider & Wiget
(1997) suggest combined terrestrial-GPS
network adjustments to obtain realistic results.
These authors report the use of a true 3D
hybrid adjustment in a Cartesian (or geocentric)
coordinate system and the (additional) solution
of the two components of the deviation of the
vertical at each point.
To evaluate if the dam has experienced
deformations between two successive epochs,
the two epochs are adjusted in one common
adjustment. This adjustment will have to be
repeated a number of times to statistically test
the stability of the reference points and to
identify the object points that have moved
statistically between epochs. All statistical tests
should be carried out at 95% confidence level.
Software for the rigorous deformation analysis
can be obtained from a number of sources. The
results of a rigorous deformation analysis are
best displayed in 2+1 dimension. Then, the
95% confidence ellipses of the horizontal (2D)
deformation vectors can be plotted together
with the deformation vectors (using the same
origin for ellipse and vector). Any vector that
crosses the ellipse is significant. Figure 14 gives
an example (Welsch et al. 2000). The vertical
movements can be shown in a similar diagram
together with the error bars at 95% confidence
level.
The reporting of the results is described in detail
by Egger (1997). This author states that 'the
main aim must always be the production of an
objective and complete record of the survey'
and mentions that results that are difficult to
explain are often the first sign of an abnormal
behaviour of the dam. Egger (1997) suggests
that the horizontal and vertical point
movements (presumably between two
consecutive epochs) are presented in graphical
as well as in tabular form. It should be added
that the diagrams and tables should clearly
indicate the movements that are statistically
significant and those that are not. As shown in
Fig. 14, it might be appropriate to show only
si gni fi cant vect ors i n t he graphi cal
represent at i on of t he epoch-t o-epoch
movements. Separate diagrams of the long
term movements might also be useful or
required. Here, it might be better to show all
epoch-t o-epoch changes si nce smal l
(insignificant) changes can add up to significant
ones with time.
Figure 14: Deformation vectors of a dam
deformation network, with 95% confidence
ellipses of the vectors. Only the significant
vectors are shown. (after Welsch et al. 2000,
Fig. 9.3-2)
Figures 15 to 17 give examples of the graphical
representation of the long term deformation of
a large embankment (fill) dam in Switzerland.
All results shown are based on geodetic
measurements. The dates and reservoir levels
of the epochs shown in the figures are
reproduced in Table 1. As mentioned above,
the Mattmark Dam is located in the Swiss Alps,
23 km ENE of the famous Matterhorn
mountain. The dam has a height of 120 m and
a length of 770 m. The maximum reservoir
level is at 2197 m above sea level. The
construction was completed in 1967 and the
first filling occurred in 1969. The survey
network is shown in Fig. 9.
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 15
Epoch Date Water Level (m)
22 6.1971 2134
23 10.1971 2194
24 6.1972 2132
25 9.1972 2190
26 6.1973 2143
27 10.1973 2196
28 6.1974 2135
29 10.1974 2193
30 6.1975 2143
31 10.1975 2197
52 6.1977 2158
53 10.1978 2196
55 6.1980 2140
56 10.1981 2196
58 6.1983 2145
Table 1: Mattmark Embankment (Fill) Dam,
Switzerland. Dates and corresponding reservoir
levels of the measurements shown in Figs. 15 to
17. (after Gilg 1985)
Figure 15 shows the horizontal movements of
five points on the crest. Evidently, the crest
points move towards the centre of the dam as
well as downstream. Also, some plastic
movement continues 16 years after completion
of the dam. An elastic behaviour of about 2 cm
between full and empty reservoir can be
observed.
Figure 16 (after Gilg 1985, Fig. 4.3.3-5) shows
the vertical and downstream displacements of
the Mattmark Embankment (Fill) Dam,
Switzerland, from June 1971 to June 1983. The
data are from geodetic measurements of the
object points (306 to 312) in the central profile
M. Note that the construction was completed
in 1967 and the first filling in 1969. Since the
object points on the upstream face can only be
measured at low water levels, they exhibit a
continued settlement and downstream
movement. (Point 309 moves 248 mm down
and 92 mm downstream over 12 years.) The
marks on the downstream face show an
additional reversible horizontal movement of
about 20 mm between full and empty reservoir.
Figure 17 (after Gilg 1985, Fig. 4.3.3-6) depicts
the vertical movements (settlements) of the
survey marks in the drainage gallery of the
Mattmark embankment (fill) dam, Switzerland,
from June 1964 to June 1983. (Construction:
1961 - 1967, first filling: 1965 - 1969.) Gilg
Figure 15: Mattmark Embankment (Fill) Dam, Switzerland. Horizontal displacements (from geodetic
measurements) of the object points (110 to 510) on the crest from 1971 to 1983. The construction
was completed in 1967 and the first filling occurred in 1969. See Fig. 16 for the movements in the
central Profile M. (after Gilg 1985, Fig. 4.3.3-4)
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 16
(1985) reports that the maximum settlement
reached 1.85 m by January 1967. The first
complete filling of the reservoir (by the
northern autumn of 1969) caused a further
settlement of 0.30 m. The following 13 filling
cycles added another settlement of 0.20 m. In
1985, the drainage gallery settled at about 10
mm/year with no end of the settlements in
sight.
The report on geodetic measurements must
satisfy a disparate group of readers, such as the
administrators, technical and legal staff of the
owner of the dam as well as civil engineers, dam
specialists and chief surveyors (Egger 1997).
The findings and conclusions should be
expressed in such a way that they are
meaningful for all targeted readers.
Following mainly Egger (1997 1993), the
essential components of the report on the
geodetic measurements (of an epoch) can be
listed as follows:
(a) date and times of survey
(b) external conditions (reservoir level, air
temperature, weather)
c) condition of the installed equipment, any
deterioration or damage to the reference or
object points, any new modification or
extensions
(d) instruments used, names of the observers
Figure 17: Mattmark Embankment (Fill)
Dam, Switzerland. Settlement of the object
points in the drainage gallery in the base of the
dam from 1964 to 1982. The construction was
completed in 1967 and the first filling occurred
in 1969. 1: alluvium, 2: bedrock (after Gilg
1985, Fig. 4.3.3-6)
Figure 16: Mattmark Embankment (Fill) Dam, Switzerland. Vertical and downstream displacements
(from geodetic measurements) of the object points (306 to 312) in the central profile M from 1971 to
1983. (See Fig. 15 for the location of the profile.) The construction was completed in 1967 and the
first filling occurred in 1969. (after Gilg 1985, Fig. 4.3.3-5)
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 17
(e) number of measurements taken and
progress of observations with time (observation
program)
(f) operating methods
(g) results of measurements and their accuracy
(incl. 95% confidence intervals)
(h) geodetic analysis (interpretation) of the
results (incl. significant deformations since the
last epoch at 95% confidence level)
(i) appendices
Egger (1997 1993) adds that items (d), (e) and
(f) are mainly for the benefit of the surveyors
and assist the planning and execution of the
measurements of the following epoch.
5 GEODETIC MEASUREMENT
TECHNIQUES: PAST,
PRESENT AND FUTURE
The hardware and methodology of geodetic
deformation measurements have changed
considerably since the first intersection
measurements of the 1920s (see Section 1).
Because of the long service life of dams, the
type of survey equipment, the observation
procedures and the analysis techniques are likely
to change over the lifetime of the structure.
Accordingly, the geodetic network has to be
designed as flexible as possible.
For an up-to-date listing of all geodetic
measuring tools currently considered for dam
deformation measurements, the readers are
referred to a recent and detailed publication of
the Swiss Committee on Dams (2005). The
summary given here is derived from this
publication as well as from Welsch (2000) and
others.
Theodolites
The theodolites used in geodetic deformation
measurements have changed over the years but
the precision of the directions and zenith angles
measured with them very little. The Wild T3
precision theodolite was already foreshadowed
in Lang (1929) and was a marked improvement
(for the measuring comfort) on the vernier
theodolites used earlier. (According to Dedual
(2005), Series 1 was in production from 1927
to 1934 and Series 2 ('NT3') from 1935 to
1957.) This theodolite allowed the removal of
the bottom plate of the tribrach and the
attachment of a centring ball (Freiberger ball
centring, diameter ~16.5 mm) underneath for
direct centring in the pillar bolts that are
referred to as 'Wild Bolts' by ANCOLD (1983,
Fig. 4.1.2 e). Wild started the manufacture of
the precision electronic theodolite Wild T2000
in 1983. The Wild T3000 was manufactured
between 1989 and 1997 and the Leica T2002
from 1988 to 1996 (Dedual 2005). The
standard versions of these instruments do not
feature the Freiberger ball centring for the
('Wild') bolts used since the 1920s. These
instruments are not more accurate than the
earlier Wild T3 or Kern DKM3, but they
feature dual-axes level sensors (important for
steep sights) and digital recording. Some of
these instruments are available in motorised
versions with or without automatic pointing (to
EDM prisms only). Leica is advertising the
(motorised) electronic theodolite TM5100 as
the replacement of the earlier T3000. These
two instruments feature the same telescopes.
The angle encoders of the TM5100 are
accurate to 0.5" and the servo motors have a
positioning accuracy of 0.7" (Leica 1997). It is
not known if the TM5100, as the T3000 it
replaces, can be accurately attached to the Kern
pillar centring plates using the system shown in
Fig. 24.
Sadly, the motorised video theodolites (Kern
E2SE and Wild TM3000V), that were available
in the 1990s (Reger 2003) and, theoretically,
permitted automatic measurements to circular
targets on downstream dam faces, are no longer
available. Since at least one electronic
tacheometer is presently (2006) sold with a
built-in CCD camera, there may be hope that
instruments capable to measure to non-
reflective targets such as the target bolts shown
in ANCOLD (1983 Fig. 4.1.2 d), do emerge
(again). Egger & Walser (2005) quote a typical
precision of directions measured with precision
theodolites as 0.7" and a typical centring
precision of smaller than 0.1 mm.
Electronic Distance Meters
The first small electro-optical distance meters
(precision 10 mm) became available in 1969
(Reger 1996). The first precision distance
meter (Kern Mekometer ME3000, see Fig. 7)
entered the market in 1973. The newer Kern
Mekometer ME5000 (see Fig. 13) was released
in 1986. Both types of Mekometers were used
widely for the deformation measurements of
(concrete) dams. Sadly, none of the dedicated
precision distance meters is still in production.
Stand-alone electronic distance meters measure
slope distances only. The complementary
angle measurements must be obtained with a
theodolite. No wonder that today's surveyors
prefer to use instruments that can measure in
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 18
three dimensions (horizontal directions, zenith
angles and slope distances). These combined
instruments are called electronic tacheometers
(or, sometimes, 'total stations').
Egger & Walser (2005) quote a typical
precision of slope distances measured with
precision distance meters as (0.1-0.2 mm + 1
ppm) and centring precisions of less than 0.1
mm. The ppm term is likely to include the
uncertainty of the temperature, pressure and
humidity measurements that are required to
correct the measured distances. In the geodetic
deformation network of the Mangrove Creek
Dam (NSW), Reger (1995) demonstrated that
the ppm term can be significantly reduced if the
local scale parameter method is used (and the
temperature, pressure and humidity are
ignored).
Figure 18: Red acrylic reflectors (road
delineator, 80 mm diameter) on UNSW carrier
with rotating vertical axis fitting the 5/8 inch
thread of the object points on the downstream
face of the Mangrove Creek Dam in NSW.
(Reger 1994, Reger & Sippel 1994)
To achieve their rated precision, distance
meters (as well as manual and robotic electronic
tacheometers) must measure to the (glass
prism) reflectors suggested by the respective
manufacturers. However, there are cases where
the full precision is not required. In such cases,
cheaper reflectors might be used once their
performance with the intended distance meter
has been tested. (Investigate errors in angle
measurement and change of reflector constant
with distance AND with angular mispointing of
reflector, horizontally and vertically.) The
(red) acrylic reflector shown in Fig. 18 was
successfully used by UNSW with the
instrumentation shown in Fig. 19 and some
other Wild electronic tacheometers of that
time.
Electronic Tacheometers
Electronic tacheometers have been around since
the early 1970s. The early instruments
recorded data on telex paper tape or audio
cassette tapes. The second generation of
electronic tacheometers followed in 1977/8
(Reger 1996). By the mid 1980s, all
manufacturers concentrated on this type of
instrument. The Wild TC2000 was
manufactured from 1983 to 1987 and the Wild
TC2002 from 1990 to 1997. Currently, Leica
offers the TCA1800, TCA2003, TC2003 and
the TDA/TDM5005 for more precise work.
(The TDA and TCA models are motorised and
can point automatically to reflectors.) Data
recording is now slowly changing from PC-cards
(PCMCIA-cards) to 'CompactFlash' cards (CF-
cards).
Figure 19: Early type of surveying robot
(Wild TM3000D and DI3000, owned and
operated by UNSW) on a reference point of the
Mangrove Creek Dam (NSW), automatically
measuring to other reference points and the
object points (Fig. 18) on the downstream face.
Note the (stainless steel) pillar centring system
with 5/8 inch Whitworth thread that allows
direct mounting of most (if not all) surveying
instruments presently on the market. (Reger
1994, Reger & Sippel 1994)
Robotic Electronic Tacheometers
Robotic electronic tacheometers are equipped
with servo motors on the two axes and with
automatic pointing systems. Some types can
find reflectors autonomously all over the
horizon, others need training (or an equivalent
data file) to find the reflectors. Fine pointing is
automatic in both cases. For the monitoring of
dams, the robotic instruments that require an
input data file with the approximate pointings
is appropriate. This ensures that the
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 19
observation routine is the same in all epochs.
Figure 19 shows one of the earlier robotic
electronic tacheometers used by UNSW with
students for deformation measurements on the
Mangrove Creek Dam (NSW). Note the
(simple) pillar centring with 5/8 inch
Whitworth thread known from surveying
tripods.
Today, the robotic instruments are smaller,
faster and more accurate, particularly as far as
the measurements of directions and zenith
angles are concerned. Leica (1997) quotes the
precision of the automatic target recognition
system (ATR) of the TCA2003 and TDA5005
as 1 mm for reflectors closer than 200 m and
2-3 mm for reflectors at 500 m. These
instruments can be operated remotely if the
appropriate software and communication links
are available. Permanently installed robotic
instruments are used for the continuous
monitoring of dams on tectonic fault lines, in
earth quake zones or on sites that are at risk
because of tunnelling underneath the dam and
reservoir (Brker 2006, Chrzanowski et al.
2006, Duffy et al. 2001, Wilkins et al. 2002).
Krickel et al. (2001) measured the reference
point network of a German dam (Dreilgerbach)
with a robotic electronic tacheometer Zeiss Elta
S10 twice, once with manual pointing and once
with automatic pointing. The measurements
with automatic pointing ('FineLock') were at
least as accurate as the manual measurements.
The automatic direction measurements
(automatic pointing and software for automatic
direction measurements) reduced the pure
measuring time at instrument stations by 70%.
Total field time at the dam was reduced by 20%
using robotic measurements.
Levelling Instruments
For more accurate work in dam deformation
measuring schemes, only precision levelling
instruments with their corresponding invar
staffs should be used. The original Wild N3
precision spirit level was in production from
1929 to 1970 and the updated version from
1973 to 1996 (Dedual 2005). The 10 mm
invar staffs are usually 3 m long; 2 m long
versions were produced for tunnels and dams as
well as shorter ones for the levelling of pillars
on dams, for example. The first automatic
(compensator) levelling instrument (Ni2) was
released by Zeiss (Oberkochen) in 1950.
Special observation routines must be followed to
overcome some aspects of these instruments.
Pre-1984 automatic levels might be affected by
the Earth's gravity field (Reger 2006). The
most sophisticated automatic level was the
Zeiss (Jena) NI002. Digital levels appeared in
1990. By 1992, the first precision digital level
(WILD NA3000) and the first invar bar code
staffs were available. The Zeiss DiNi12 is
presently the most accurate digital level if
inherent systematic errors are considered.
Users of digital levels for dam deformation
surveys should be well aware of the errors of
digital AND automatic levels since all digital
levels are also automatic levels. The
illumination of staffs in galleries remains a
problem. Egger & Walser (2005) note that it is
essential that levelling runs be carried out
independently forward and backward since
redundancy is always poor. These authors also
note that precision levelling on dams, though
simple in principle, is full of surprises.
Satellite Signal Receivers
Satellite signal receivers using GPS(USA),
Glonass(Russia) and/or Galileo(Europe) satellite
signals can achieve a precision of about 10-20
mm for the coordinate vector between stations
irrespective of observation and processing
methods (Egger & Walser 2005). Better
precisions can be achieved but require a much
larger measuring effort and more sophisticated
processing softwares (e.g. Bernese). In small
deformation networks, extending 1-2 km in
both (horizontal) coordinates, GPS can
presently not achieve the precisions of
traditional techniques because of a number of
systematic errors that cannot easily be modelled
(Egger & Walser 2005). Satellite techniques
have, however, a number of advantages:
stations do not have to be inter-visible and the
method is largely independent of weather and
day-time. Satellite techniques are suitable to
extend the dam monitoring networks to
reference points further away in geologically
stable ground and to monitor unstable terrain
near and along the reservoir. Swiss National
Mapping started using GPS in 1989 mainly for
the extension of older dam monitoring
networks. Schneider & Wiget (1997) give
excellent advice on the procedures to be
followed for this purpose. Reflecting surfaces
(including the water surface in the reservoir)
near satellite antennas are a particular difficult
problem. Schneider & Wiget (1997) discuss 3D
and 2+1D adjustments of combined terrestrial-
satellite data and demonstrate the precision of
horizontal GPS vectors (maximum length about
4 km) of 1.5 mm (vertical component: 3.0
mm) in the combined adjustment with
horizontal directions (1"), zenith angles
(1.3") and slope distances (0.3 mm + 0.5
ppm). Since satellite techniques provide the
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 20
results in a 3D geocentric Cartesian coordinate
system and the terrestrial data are essentially in
local 2D+1D coordinate systems, the deviations
of the vertical, the difference between
ellipsoidal and geoidal heights and the scale
difference between terrestrial distance
measurements and the satellite measurements
most be taken into account. For these reasons,
combined ('hybrid') adjustments require experts.
Photogrammetry
Typically, aerial photogrammetry provides
precisions of 0.01% and 0.015% of the flight
path above ground of horizontal and vertical
coordinates, respectively (Flotron 1997). With
much overlap, a precision (in cm) of 0.05% of
the photo scale can be achieved, that is 2 cm
for a photo 1:4000. Usually, photogrammetry
is too expensive (and often not accurate
enough) for the monitoring of the dam proper.
However, photogrammetric techniques are ideal
for the monitoring of terrain movements near
or along the reservoir. If centimetre precision
is required, monitoring points have to be
marked. If precisions of decimetres are
sufficient, no monitoring points need to be
marked. Naturally, some (marked) reference
points around the area of interest must be
available.
Fryer & Barlett (1989) reported on the use of
terrestrial photogrammetry for the monitoring
of the Chichester Dam in NSW. The dam is
254 m long and 43 m high. A precision of 3-8
mm was achieved in all components of the
object point coordinates.
Laser Scanners
Laser scanners became available about 10 years
ago. They are instruments that can measure
distances, zenith angles and direction in a grid
pattern over structures and terrain (Reger
2003). The measurements are fast and do not
require reflective targets on the structure or
terrain. Reflectors must be placed on a few
reference points so that the data can be
transformed later into the dam coordinate
system. The maximum range of these devices
varies greatly between brands and models,
typically 100 m to 350 m. Precision gets worse
with distance: 5 mm/50 m and 25 mm/200 m
are quoted (Reger 2003). Since laser scanners
provide 3D models of the area surveyed, they
have similar applications as photogrammetry.
Schulz & Zogg (2006) discuss laser scanner
measurements (with a Leica HDS 3000) of a
concrete dam in Switzerland. The instrument
was set up 100 m from the dam. The dam was
scanned (in 30 minutes) with a point density of
about 0.20 m. These authors measured four
epochs. The plots of the coordinate differences
(i-th epoch minus reference epoch) show values
of up to 5 cm near the abutments. The authors
attribute these differences to measuring errors
(and not to dam deformations). They quote
relatively long distance, humidity or wetness of
the concrete, angle between the measuring beam
and the structure (ideally 90) and inaccuracy of
the reference system used as likely sources of
the discrepancies. They conclude that, for the
time being, the conventional measurements are
to be preferred for the monitoring of the dam
proper.
Laser scanners can be replaced by the cheaper
motorised reflectorless electronic tacheometers,
which may have longer range and better
precision but are much slower. They need to be
programmed to allow scanning. Because of the
time involved, such instruments usually scan the
structure with a much lesser density of points.
Laser Trackers
Laser Trackers contain a tracking laser
interferometer as well as angle encoders on the
mirror that keeps the laser beam on the prism
(Reger 2003). The tracker follows an EDM
prism mounted inside a steel (Taylor-Hobson)
sphere as it is moved by an assistant from one
measuring point to the next. If survey marks
are to be measured, they have to have a conical
top so that the sphere can be placed in it. (The
CERN centring system has this facility built in.)
Starting point for measurements is a reference
point on the instrument. The 3D accuracy is
about 0.03 mm per 10 m. The range of the
trackers is typically 35 m. Some trackers
feature an additional precision distance meter
on board so that a measurement sequence does
not have to be restarted after a beam
interruption. Laser trackers are used in
metrology but could be used to replace
theodolites and the DISTINVAR in the gallery
traverses in concrete dams. More likely than
not, this would require some changes to the
traversing networks.
Hanging and Inverted Pendulums
Since pendulums are the measuring instruments
of choice inside concrete dams, they are briefly
mentioned, even though they are not usually
operated and installed by surveyors. These
devices are used to measure horizontal
displacements. The accuracy is 0.2 mm. The
tension in the wires varies between 200 N and
2000 N. Manual and automatic read-out
devices are available. Some good advice on
installation and operation can be found in the
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 21
recent publication of the Swiss Committee on
Dams (2005). Both types of pendulum
equipment are commercially available (e.g. see
www.huggenberger.com, under 'inclination').
Wire Alignment
The alignment with horizontal steel wires
allows to detect the horizontal movements in
galleries and, if it is the only option, on the
crest of (concrete) dams. Jakob (1969) and
Milev (1985) summarised Bombcinsij' s
development of a wire alignment system for the
Kuibyschew Dam in the former USSR. A 1 mm
diameter wire was used over 600 m, at 600 N
tension, with an alignment precision of 0.3
mm. At least three floating supports (see Milev
1985 for photo) were used. The offsets were
measured at 20 positions. Deumlich (1976)
reported on a wire alignment over 825 m in the
former USSR (Krasnojarsk), with float support
every 60 m, a wire diameter of 1.2 mm, a
tension of 2000 N (200 kgf) and an alignment
precision of a few 0.1 mm. For the Kirov Dam
in Kirgiskaya the wire was supported by floats
in a water channel along the dam. This
eliminates sag, reduces the influence external
influences on the wire and increases accuracy to
0.1 mm (Deumlich 1976).
The Swiss Committee on Dams (2005) quotes
the accuracy of wire alignment as 0.2 mm and
states that spans of 200 m are achievable with
sags of less than 0.20 m. In Switzerland, the
wire is tensioned at one end through a pulley
system. Longer lengths require intermediate
supports that allow free lateral movements.
Float suspension as in inverted pendulums can
be used.
The measuring precision is independent of
length and refraction; automatic reading and
data transfer are possible. Air currents in
galleries should be minimised since they can
affect the wire's position. No commercial
equipment seems to be available. But
installations in Switzerland (4 gravity concrete
dams) date back many years. The dam
('Schrh') shown in Figs. 1 and 2 was retrofitted
with a wire alignment system on the crest in
1973. The system on the crest of another dam
('Rempen') is shown in Fig. 5. Photos of the
key components of a mechanical alignment
system in a dam gallery can be found in the
publication by the Swiss Committee on Dams
(2005) together with advice on installation and
use.
CERN in Geneva is developing a new generation
of a wire alignment system for the new
Compact Linear Collider (CLIC). They use a
60 m long carbon fibre wire of 0.32 mm
diameter to measure horizontal and vertical
displacements in real-time, using capacitive
pick-offs. Tension is applied by 6 kg weights
(60 N). The repeatability is 1 micrometre. In
its present form (see www.fogal.fr) this device is
not rugged enough, and does not have a large
enough measuring range for dam measurements.
However, the potential of measuring two
components (also replacing levelling and
hydrostatic levelling) in real-time is attractive
if the instrumentation can be transplanted from
clean laboratories to not so clean and dry dam
sites.
Hydrostatic Levelling
Hydrostatic levelling has been in use for a long
time. Commercial manual and automatic
equipment for deformation measurements is
available from Freiberger Przisionsmechanik
(ww.fpm.de), for example. The resolution of
these systems is 0.01 mm. According to the
Swiss Committee on Dams (2005), the
measuring units have to be connected by three
tubes (3-4 mm diameter for the tubes carrying
the water and 6-7 mm for the air tubes). The
water used has to be degassed. Unequal
temperatures along the tubes are another
problem. Inside the dam, hydrostatic levelling
can replace precise levelling if properly
handled. It has the advantage, that the readings
can be made automatically and be
communicated to a control centre elsewhere.
In particle physics laboratories, hydrostatic
levelling systems with resolutions at the
micrometre level have become very popular.
(See www.emp-winterthur.ch and www.fogale.fr,
for example.)
Invar Distance Measurement
There are two modern distance measuring
instruments that are based on invar wires. The
DISTINVAR was developed in the 1960s by the
European Organization of Nuclear Research
(CERN) in Geneva. It is commercially available
(including an electronic readout version) from
the company Geodes i e I ndus t r i el l e
(www.geodesie.com). The Distometer was
developed by the Swiss Institute of Technology
and marketed through KERN & Co Ltd. (I do
not know if the Distometer is still available
commercially.) Both devices are depicted in
Keller (1978), use wires of 1.65 mm diameter
and can measure lengths from 1 to 30 m with a
measuring range of 50 mm (DISTINVAR) and
100 mm (Distometer). The instruments
measure only the changes of length between
epochs. Since the lengths of the wires are fixed,
the point spacing (in dam galleries for example)
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 22
must be standardised to avoid the need to buy
many different lengths. For absolute
measurements, a calibration of the system is
required. It is advisable to have 2-3 wires of the
same length and to measure a number of stable
reference lines near the dam before and after
the dam measurements. (Fig. 9 shows the
location of a tunnel with a calibration facility
for invar wires.) Further advise on the
measurements with these devices can be found
in Egger & Walser (2005).
Optical Alignment
The optical alignment (across the crest of a
dam) qualifies as a simple technique. Dedicated
equipment is available from the firm Freiberger
Przisionsmechanik in Freiberg, Germany
(www.fpm.de). As expected, this equipment
does use the Freiberger Ball centring for the
alignment telescope and the fixed target (on
both ends of the alignment axis). The ball
diameter is, however, larger than the 16.53 mm
(Lang 1929) of the traditional centring bolts
advertised (in the past) by Wild and Kern.
Freiberger Przisionsmechanik (www.fpm.de)
also supplies special marks for the (road on the)
crest and an adjustable target that allows to
measure the offset of ground marks from the
line. The accuracy of the method depends on
the length of the alignment axis and the
horizontal refraction errors. As mentioned
before, refraction errors of 14 mm at 300 m
have been found experimentally (Biedermann
1997). Egger & Walser (2005) suggest that
optical alignment is obsolete and is better
replaced by other techniques.
Optical Plummets
The accuracy of optical plummets is given as
0.5 to 1 mm by Welsch et al. (2000, p. 59).
Although surveying instrument manufacturers
do sell specialised zenith (up) and/or nadir
(down) plummets, plumbing upwards can be
done equally (if not more) precise with
theodolites that have a diagonal eyepiece. If
the dam is equipped with vertical shafts, then
wi re pendul ums are t he preferred
instrumentation for many reasons. Optical
plummets (or theodolites or electronic
tacheometers fitted with diagonal eyepieces)
may have to be used to connect the top gallery
to the crest (if the pendulum attachment point
is not at crest level). Such a case was discussed
in connection with Fig. 9.
Centring Systems
Freiberger Ball Centring (~16.5 mm diameter)
In the 1920s, the Swiss dams were equipped with
brass centring bolts with a bore diameter to fit
the Freiberger Ball centring (diameter 16.53
mm) of the theodolite 'without constraint but
with a tight fit' (Lang 1929). The Hildebrand
(vernier) theodolites supported this pillar
centring as did the Wild T3 precision
theodolites afterwards. (The T3 owned by
UNSW has a centring ball of 16.52 mm
diameter.) Wild supported this pillar centring
kit (Fig. 20) at least until 1986. The centring
repeatability is given as 0.02 mm when used
with the Freiberger Ball attachment of
theodolites (or tribrachs). Untersee (1951,
1975) shows how the Wild T3 fits the pillar
bolt (1) shown in Fig. 20. According to the
Leica-Geosystems web page (September 2006),
the products shown in Fig. 20 are no longer
available.
Figure 20: Special Wild equipment for
monitoring and deformation surveys: Wild
pillar centring bolt (1), with ~16.5 mm bore and
protective cap, spot bubble for levelling bolt
during attachment to pillar (2), bullseye target
for centring bolts (3), bullseye target for
vertical dam faces (4). (after Wild 1986)
For all other Wild theodolites available in 1986
(e.g T2, T2000, T2000S, TC2000) Wild
suggested a special tribrach for centring on
pillars with the Freiberger Ball (diameter ~16.5
mm) centring (Fig. 21). This arrangement is
subject to two random centring errors, one
between the instrument and the dish of the
tribrach and one between the ball and the bolt,
and a systematic one (ball in centre of tribrach
dish). Naturally, this centring system also
allows to fit most non-Wild/Leica equipment
onto pillar bolts. Sadly, the equipment shown
in Fig. 21 is no longer listed in Leica's 2000
'accessories' booklet nor on the current Leica
web page. There is some concern about the
rotational stability of the set-up shown in Fig.
21 when modern motorised theodolites are
inserted; the angular accelerations and
decelerations of these robotic instruments
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 23
introduce torsional forces that may cause
slipping of the footscrews' disks on the pillar.
This rotational slipping would depend on the
weight of the instrument, the torque applied by
the servo motor (around the vertical axis) and
the smoothness of the pillar surface.
Kern supported the same bolt system (diameter
~16.5 mm) with the pillar bolt system shown in
Fig. 22. The centring bolt has a protecting cap.
The set includes three brass bolts for the feet of
the trivet (Fig. 23). Two of these have flat
surfaces, one has a groove to provide torsional
stability. For example, the reference points in
the network shown in Figure 9 are fitted with
the centring kit of Fig. 22.
Figure 21: Wild GDF24 Freiberger ball
centring device (diameter ~16.5 mm) with
detachable base plate and three discs for the
foot screws. A small scale allows to measure
the height of the tribrach over the bolt. With
this tribrach, all instruments that fit the Wild
tribrach dish can be mounted on the bolt shown
in Fig. 20. (after Wild 1986)
Figure 22: Centring bolt and three support
bolts (for the feet of the trivet) concreted into
the top of an observation pillar. Central bore
of bolt fits 16.53 mm diameter Freiberger ball
centring. (after Kern 1971)
To use the Freiberger ball centring bolts with
KERN instruments, the trivet shown in Fig. 23
had to be mounted over the bolt. The trivet
features a spot bubble (1) to level the top plate,
a short centring rod (2) that can be lowered into
the bolt and a lever (3) to lock the ball and
socket top. Again, the height of the trivet
above bolt can be read off a scale. The centring
precision of the trivet was better than 0.1 mm
(Kern 1971). The trivet shown in Fig. 23 can
be used to mount all those instruments on
Freiberger ball centring pillars, that fit the Kern
centring system. This includes the precision
distance meter Kern Mekometer ME5000.
Figure 23: Kern trivet for centring on
Freiberger ball bolts of ~16.5 mm diameter.
The trivet features a spot bubble (1) to level the
top plate, a short centring rod (2) that can be
lowered into the bolt and a lever (3) to lock the
ball and socket top. The height of the trivet
above bolt can be read off a scale. (after Kern
1971)
Kern Pillar Centring Plates
About 1973, Kern introduced an alternative
pillar centring system with their 158 mm
diameter aluminium pillar centring plates.
These plates were permanently attached
(screwed) to observation pillars and, sometimes,
object points. Important is that the top of the
plate is horizontal after mounting (and that the
pillar does not go off level with time). The
Kern pillar plate is shown in Fig. 13 (and, later,
in Fig. 24). The exterior network of the
Gigerwald Dam shown in Figs. 11 and 12 is
equipped with the Kern pillar plates.
Having a number of monitoring schemes based
on the Kern pillar plates lead to the problem of
fixing other makes of instruments onto them.
One way was to use a special Wild tribrach, that
features the Kern centring at the base. This
Wild GDF25K tribrach (Fig. 24) featured one
fixed 'footscrew' and two adjustable ones so that
the height of the tribrach dish did not change
from one set-up to the next (provided that the
tribrach is always mounted in the same
orientation).
In addition, the central disk in the base of this
tribrach can be removed so that the (10 mm)
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 24
ball centring extension for the theodolites
T2000, T2000S and T3000 can be used. These
theodolites (like the T3 before) carry a central
thread underneath that allows the attachment
of the ball centring extension to the instrument
body. This centring rod then goes directly into
the central bore of the Kern centring plate and
centres the theodolite (not the tribrach) to 0.2
mm over the pillar plate. This tribrach was
available in 1986 (Wild 1986) but not any
longer in 2000 (Leica 2000).
Figure 24: Wild GDF25K tribrach with one
fixed 'footscrew' and two adjustable ones. The
(10 mm diameter) ball centring extension
shown on the left is explained in the text. This
tribrach allows to fit any Wild-tribrach
compatible instruments to the Kern pillar plate
or (Kern tripods for that matter). (after Wild
1986)
Centring on fixed 5/8 inch Whitworth Thread
Most current surveying instruments feature
Wild-type tribrachs, which carry a female 5/8
inch Whitworth thread (with 11 turns over 25.4
mm, after British Standard BS 84) underneath
for the attachment to tripods. Therefore, it
suggests itself to equip the top of pillars with a
secure (stainless steel) 5/8 inch Whitworth
thread, usually centred on a solid and smooth
stainless steel plate. The pillars of
trigonometric stations in NSW are so equipped
as are the observation pillars (and downstream
face points) on the Mangrove Creek Dam in
NSW, for example. Figures 18 and 19 show
examples of the latter.
I do not know of any investigations into the
repeatability of the centring of instruments on
such pillars or marks. The centring precision is
certainly worse than the 0.02 mm of the
Freiberger Ball centring and somewhat worse
than the 0.1 mm centring precision of the
Kern trivets (Fig. 23) on the pillar bolts (Fig.
22). This simple pillar centring system might
be entirely appropriate where centring errors of
a few tenths of a millimetre can be tolerated,
namely where no short rays are involved and
where no equipment of highest precision is
being used.
Since embankment dams typically show larger
deformations than concrete dams, this simple
pillar centring might be more appropriate for
the former. Galleries in new concrete dams
may have to be equipped with the CERN
centring system discussed below (since the 16.5
mm bolts and the Kern pillar centring plates
(158 mm diameter) are no longer commercially
available). For robotic instruments with fast
acting servo motors (large rotational
accelerations) this simple centring system
might provide more torsional stability than the
system shown above.
Figure 25: Adaptor for instrument tribrachs
with 5/8 inch Whitworth thread that fits (and
locks in) the 30 mm CERN centring system
(see Fig. 8, from www.geodesie.com, 'Universal
Fixation for Wild')
CERN (30.00 mm) Centring System
The system shown in Fig. 8 is the current
version of the 30 mm cylindrical CERN
centring system. It was redesigned to allow the
centring cylinder to be levelled (e.g. made
vertical). The centring accuracy is at the 0.01
mm level. Taylor-Hobson spheres (which can
contain circular targets or EDM prisms) can be
put into the conical surface at the top with a
height repeatability of 0.02 mm (CERN 1974).
This is of advantage if laser trackers are to be
used. The CERN centring system is very sturdy
since it has to serve the CERN DISTINVAR,
which applies a tension of 150 N to the invar
wire (against the centring cylinder).
In deformation measurements, the CERN
centring system has been used in galleries of
concrete dams for the traversing network. The
CERN centring system is commercially
available (from Geodesie Industrielle in Geneva,
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 25
Switzerland, www.geodesie.com). Figure 25
shows how standard surveying equipment can be
attached (and locked!) in the CERN centring
device with adaptor plates fitted with the
customary 5/8 inch Whitworth thread on top.
The likely centring errors between tribrach and
the 5/8 inch Whitworth thread have been
discussed in the previous section. It is worse
than the 0.01 mm centring between the CERN
socket (Fig. 8) and the adaptor shown in Fig.
25.
6 DEFINING ENGINEERING
NEEDS
As early as possible in the design phase of a
dam, the engineering needs should be
communicated to the surveyor. Early
discussions are essential since the positions of
shafts for pendulum systems and the locations
of galleries inside the dam have to interface
with the geodetic deformation measurement
scheme, for example.
1D, 2D or 3D?
Although the actual radial (upstream-
downstream) movements as well as the up-down
movements (settlements) are of primary
interest, the lateral (tangential) components
also need to be known since an abnormal dam
behaviour can include rotations and block shifts.
The scheme must also cover any potentially
unstable terrain around the dam and unstable
slopes or rock formation along the reservoir.
Since, the geodetic measuring scheme has to
provide the reference for any future specialised
measuring schemes established in response to
abnormal behaviour, it should be as redundant
and wide ranging as possible. The geodetic
network on large dams should provide 3D
information in an absolute sense, that is against
stable terrain outside the influence zones of dam
and reservoir.
Magnitude of Anticipated Deformations
The engineers must indicate the expected
deformations and displacements of critical
points on the planned dam for the different
stages of the dam that need to be measured
since the required measuring precision must
relate to them. Measuring stages of interest
are:
total long-term deformation
before and after first filling (possibly
additional measurements at the 1/2 or 1/3 and
2/3 points of filling)
before and after the first emptying (possibly
additional measurements at the 1/2 or 1/3 and
2/3 points of emptying)
seasonal changes (summer, winter;
temperature often dominant influence)
Once the expected deformations for the above
events are defined, the required surveying
precision can be estimated with a rule-of-thumb
design equation. From the expected
deformations of the listed events above, the
smallest one is the minimal movement (dy) of
object points that the geodetic measurements
have to be able to resolve. The measuring
precision (sy, in one epoch, one standard
deviation) can be estimated conservatively as
(Welsch et al. 2000 Eq. 1.3-3, Pelzer et al.
1987, Eq. 2.1-3)
sy dy/5 (1)
This formula considers that two epochs of
measurements are needed to obtain a change in
the position of an object point and that
changes larger than dy must be significant at
95% confidence level. Pelzer et al. (1987) also
give other rule-of-thumb advice that is useful
when designing deformation networks. (For
English translation, see Reger 1997).
Based on Eq. (1), the surveyor can select
appropriate measuring instruments and
techniques and design a monitoring network.
Using least squares adjustment programs, the
expected precision (95% confidence error
ellipses) of the deformation vectors between
two epochs can be simulated (without actual
observations). The 95% confidence ellipses of
the critical object points must all be smaller
than the (dy) specified. During the preliminary
analysis of the geodetic network, the reliability
and redundancy of the network design must be
checked. The suggestions by Carosio & Dupraz
(1997) are helpful in this regard. The potential
loss of one or two reference points must be
factored in.
Density of Object Points
Recent trends show that, wherever possible, the
monitoring points are established inside the
dam, where galleries are interfaced with
pendulums in vertical shafts. Ideally, the
pendulum measurements connect to horizontal
wire alignments (rather than to surveying
precision traverses) in galleries or along walls
on the crest. So, ideally, no object points will
be placed on the outside of dams other than on
the crest. This approach suits gravity concrete
dams and some concrete arch dams. See Figs. 6,
10, 11 and 12. Since concrete dams are poured
in blocks, it is often required to place the
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 26
internal points in such a way that each block is
monitored.
For embankment dams, the traditional
placement of survey marks in rows (horizontal
profiles) and columns (vertical profiles) dates
back to the 1920s and is well established and
proven. Six vertical and four horizontal lines
of object points (e.g. see Figs. 1 and 2) on the
downstream face of dams with no galleries and
no pendulum shafts are a starting point for the
considerations. Naturally, the number of object
points will depend on the size of the dam.
Figure 9 shows an arrangement for a large dam
(780 m long, 120 m high). The asymmetric
layout of the point profiles in Fig. 9 is due to
the increasing dam height towards the East.
Short and (Potential) Long Term Needs
The geodetic measurements will be more
frequent during the construction of the dam and
during the first filling and emptying of the
reservoir. This is to check the actual
deformations against the expected ('design')
ones. After that, geodetic measurements (full
network or reduced network) are less frequent
unless, naturally, an abnormal behaviour is
detected (by other means). Since the geodetic
network provides the reference for any
emergency measurements, it is sensible
(Biedermann 1996) to measure a reduced
network at least every 5 years (during safety
checks of the dam) and the full network every
15 years (when the reservoir is emptied). The
geodetic deformation network must be designed
for the same working life as the dam and must
be maintained and protected accordingly.
Coordinate System, Grid Orientation
It is customary to use a local coordinate system
for the dam construction and the geodetic
measurements. This is usually split into an X-Y
horizontal coordinate system (sometimes with a
false origin to avoid equivalent x and y values)
and a vertical one, the latter based on heights
above sea level. For the vertical datum, the
reference height (elevation above sea level of
the chosen X-Y plane coordinate system)
should be clearly specified since all length
measurements have to be reduced to this
elevation. Depending on the elevation of the
dam site, selection of sea level as height
reference might not be optimal.
For orientation, the symmetry axes of the dam
are suitable. It should be noted that the
extended geodetic network might involve GPS
satellite signal observations and that proper
transformation of the geocentric satellite
coordinate system into the local X-Y & H
system is not trivial.
Reporting Format
Section 4 gives details of the reporting of
survey measurements and data. The engineers
and surveyors should discuss and specify the
extent and form of the reports, considering
Section 4. The 'results of measurements' (see
Section 4) might refer to the mean values of
the observed data and/or the set of adjusted
coordinates (of a new epoch). A list of the
current coordinates of all point should always be
supplied (with associated 95% confidence
intervals and, possibly, standard deviations).
The result of the actual deformation analysis
(between the previous and the current epoch)
should be reported. A graph similar to Fig. 14
shows visually the 95% confidence ellipses of
all (horizontal) deformation vectors between
two epochs as well as the significant
deformation (vectors). The same information
should also be given in table form. The height
changes should be given in a similar form.
Graphic displays are well suited for a visual
representation of the long term behaviour of
some or all object points. Diagrams such as the
one shown in Fig 2, are beautiful but can handle
only 2-3 epochs. The diagrams shown in Figs.
15-17 show very graphically (and in 2D in Figs.
15 and 16), how the displacements progress
with time. To cover the whole dam, these
diagrams would have to be duplicated for the
remaining groups of points, if so desired by the
engineers. Plots of 1D displacements with time
are sometimes used but lack the geometric
information and 2D aspects. As long as the
deformations are given and plotted in 2D, there
is no need to split the vectors into its radial and
tangential components.
Frequency of Data Collection (Epochs)
Since the suggestions by the Swiss regulatory
authority for dams minimise the cost (of the
expensive geodetic measurements by specialist
surveyors) to owners without increasing the
safety risk, they are repeated here.
Concrete dams with internal pendulums and
horizontal galleries (equipped with wire
alignment systems or geodetic precision
traverses), the complete interior network
(pendulums, alignment (wire or traverse),
(possibly, together with a reduced exterior
network,) should be measured every five years.
The full interior and exterior network should be
measured at least every fifteen years. (The
pendulums are read at least every month by
non-surveyors.) Note that these dams do not
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 27
carry survey marks on the upstream and
downstream faces.
Embankment dams (or concrete dams with no
galleries and/or pendulums) with object points
at least on the downstream face: On these
dams, the monthly measurements have to be
carried out with simple techniques (ideally by
non-surveyors). Some simple techniques are
outlined in Section 2. Since these simple survey
techniques carried out by non-surveyors are less
accurate than the pendulum and wire alignment
readings, Biedermann (1997) proposes to
measure the 'interior network' (of the dam
points) and a reduced exterior net at least every
year (rather than every 5 years) and the full
interior and exterior network at least every 15
years. The Swiss Committee on Dams (2005)
adds an annual (or more frequent) levelling to
the list of required observations.
If such dams are equipped with a permanent
pillar with a permanently installed robotic
el ect roni c t acheomet er for aut omat i c
continuous (or daily, or weekly) measurements
(with data communication to the dam
operator), then the cycle of reduced geodetic
measurements could go back to 5 years. Here,
the robotic measurements replace the monthly
pendulum readings by dam staff. Full geodetic
measurements again every 15 years.
For dams with heights of less than 10-15 m, the
Swiss Committee on Dams (2005) suggests the
measurement of the deformation once a year
(rather than monthly as above) if only small
and insignificant deformations are expected.
However, monthly seepage and piezometer data
are still required under these circumstances.
7 RESOLVING SURVEYING
ISSUES
There are some aspects that the surveyor has to
resolve in discussions with the engineers.
Epochs
All geodetic measurements taken at a particular
time constitute one epoch of measurements.
Since changes of the dam during the
measurements of an epoch must be minimised,
the water level should be kept constant.
Depending on the size of the geodetic
deformation network, the number of reference
and object points and the sophistication of the
measuring techniques, the measurement of one
epoch may take a few days to two weeks.
Accuracy Versus Precision ISO Uncertainty
All survey measurements are affected by
unavoidable random errors (the smaller the
more 'precise' an instrument is). This
repeatability of the observations is referred to
as precision. Accuracy is a measure for the
agreement with the 'true value' or the national
standard for the corresponding unit of
measurement. (Electronic distance meters and
levelling staff should be calibrated against the
national standard of length, for example.)
Even if calibrated instruments are used, some
systematic errors can affect the measurements.
Some of these than be neutralised by smart field
techniques, other (such as atmospheric
refraction effects) not.
The old rule that one should always use the
same equipment on particular points and always
measure the same way (Lang 1929) still applies.
This ensures that some systematic errors are
the same in all epochs and, thus, cancel each
other when differences of two epochs are taken.
Since the modern deformation analysis is based
on network adjustments (where systematic
errors inflate the output precisions) the
deformation vectors might be more accurate
that the confidence ellipses of the vector
suggest.
Recently, the International Organization for
Standardization (ISO 1995) published a Guide to
the Expression of Uncertainty where the
uncertainty (of measurement) is defined as a
'parameter, associated with the result of a
measurement that characterises the dispersion
of the values that could be reasonably be
attributed to the measurand'. It is suggested to
use the 'expanded uncertainty' as defined by ISO
(1995) in any new documentations and reports.
Relative Versus Absolute Displacements
The pendulums inside dams give displacements
relative to their suspension points. If inverted
(floating) pendulums are anchored deep below
the dam in bedrock, then the pendulums can be
referred to a quasi-absolute reference. Similarly,
alignment measurements (wire alignment or
precision traverses) in galleries give only quasi-
absolute deformations, if the galleries extend
deep into the side of the valley on both sides.
Since dams can shift as a block, absolute
displacements can only be obtained by
anchoring the geodetic network well away from
the influence zone of dam and reservoir.
Presently, there is a tendency to extend
existing monitoring networks (typically
extending a few hundred metres around the dam,
e.g. Fig. 1).
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 28
Setting-Out versus Monitoring Networks
The geodetic deformation measurements require
the installation of a number of double-wall
concrete pillars near the dam site. The cost of
construction of these pillars can be shared and
the stability of the pillars increased (settling,
ageing), if pillar locations can be found that
serve the construction (setting-out) as well as
the monitoring phase. Stable ground and solid
protection are required.
Costs Versus Accuracy and Frequency
The cost s of geodet i c deformat i on
measurements increase with the precision that
is required to determine critical deformations
with confidence, since higher precision requires
more precise equipment and, often, specialist
observers. In consequence, the engineer should
specify the expected deformations at key
points and the events that need to be measured.
The measuring precision and equipment can
then be selected by the surveyors. To keep
costs down, the aim is to just meet the
requirements.
The frequency of the geodetic measurements
should me minimised to keep costs at bay, as
suggested above. Having wire pendulums and
wire alignment systems installed increases
precision, reduces the hours surveyors spend on
the dam and easily allows conversion to
continuous measurements.
Design of the Survey Network
The design of monitoring schemes is discussed
in Section 3 in detail. It is the surveyors task to
design the geometry of the network. Through
computer simulations, the redundancy,
reliability and precision of the deformations are
checked. Since the network must service the
dam for its life, it is essential that the network
can cope with the loss of one or two reference
points in its life. The performance in case of
the loss of a reference point should be simulated
and the network improved, if necessary. A
robust, reliable and redundant design is required.
Satellite measuring techniques might be planned
to extend the net further away from the dam,
without inter-visibility constraints.
Reference and Object Points
All points of the network, that need to be
visited by surveyors, must be easily accessible all
year round. Occupational safety must be
observed. The stability of the points must be
ensured by proper design and careful selection
of the sites. Permanency of the points is
essential considering the 50-100+ year service
life of the dam. The height of the pillars must
be optimised for convenient manual
observations. The engineers must assist with
the protection of the object and reference
points from construction work and vandals.
Solid steel covers might be required to protect
the pillars from the elements and vandals.
Centring Systems
The centring precision is part of the design of
the network. The centring system should give
the required precision and be as simple as
possible. Since some of the traditional pillar
centring systems, that were previously supplied
by Kern and Wild, do not seem to be available
any more, a fixed 5/8 inch male thread on a
stainless steel plate might be sufficient for
embankment dams. The centring precision
should be confirmed by experiment. The same
applies to monitoring points on the
downstream face of embankment dams.
For the high precision traverses (and the
connection to and in-between pendulums) in the
galleries of concrete dams, more sophisticated
centring systems might be required. The CERN
system is commercially available (or can be
manufactured in-house).
Figure 26: 'Traversing' target (by Kern,
attached to a Kern trivet) on a reference point
of a dam deformation network (after Kern
1971, Fig. 19)
'Targets' for Geodetic Measurements
Targets (see Fig. 26, on points that are being
observed to) are used when only angular
measurements (horizontal directions and/or
zenith angles) are required (or if angular
measurements to EDM reflectors are not
accurate enough). In the early days of geodetic
dam deformation measurements, long before
the introduction of infrared distance meters in
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 29
1969 and of precision distance meters in 1973,
only directions and zenith angles were measured
between the reference stations. In consequence,
the targets had to cater for angular
measurements only. Wild (see (3) in Fig. 20)
advertised the traditional circular target bolts
(that cannot be levelled) as late as 1986 for
pillars and monitoring points. Today, distances
between reference stations have grown,
requiring bigger targets. Traversing targets,
than can be accurately centred and levelled, are
preferred for manual angular measurements.
Figure 26 shows a typical 'traversing' target.
According to KERN (1971) this target is
suitable for sighting distances from 20 m to 1
km. The eccentricity between the symmetry
axis of the target and the cylinder of the forced
centring does not exceed 0.3-0.4 mm. For
shorter sights, smaller and better centred targets
were sold by KERN.
Figure 27: Spherical targets (bright orange,
see arrow) on the object points on the upstream
face of the Mattmark embankment dam in
Switzerland. The numbers on the pillars serve
for point identification during measurements.
Note the (hanging) glacier visible at the top.
One reference point (not shown in Fig. 9),
situated in the path of falling ice masses, had to
be abandoned due to safety concerns. (May
1970, photo by author)
In the case of embankment dams with no
pendulums or wire alignment systems, a large
number of object points might have to be
monitored from the reference points. Since it
is very time consuming to turn the traditional
targets (see (3) in Fig. 20) on a dam when the
surveyor moves from one reference point to
another, brightly coloured three-dimensional
spherical target (Fig. 27) were some times used.
Naturally, such targets again are only for
angular measurements. Spherical targets were
once sold by Huggenberger AG, but not any
more if the information on their web site
(www.huggenberger.com) is correct.
Wild also supplied circular (bullseye') targets for
the faces of concrete dams (see (4) in Fig. 20).
These are no longer available but have
withstood the test of times on many concrete
dams. Bolts like that suit angular
measurements, which, today, can only be
carried out manually. Where possible, concrete
dams should be equipped with internal networks
with pendulums and survey systems in the
horizontal galleries rather than with marks on
the downstream face. (Retro-fitting of wire
alignment and pendulum systems might be
appropriate.) Bolts in concrete and rock faces
may have to be used in new dams where
pendulums and/or wire alignments cannot be
installed. Unless they can easily be serviced and
replaced, the attachment of reflectors in the
faces of concrete dams is not recommended
since reflectors get dirty, may get damaged (e.g.
by dropped stones) and the reflective coating
deteriorates with time and humidity.
Ref l ect ors as ' Target s' : For distance
measurements as well as for robotic angular
measurements, EDM glass prism reflectors are
required. The reflectors must be carefully
levelled and pointed to the measuring stations,
in two directions. The poor pointing of
reflectors not only generates errors in distances
but also errors in measured horizontal directions
and zenith angles. (For details see Reger
1996.)
Depending on the length of lines measured and
the required measurement precision, 'precision'
reflectors should be used. According to Leica
(2000), the GPH1P prism with GZR3 carrier
and GDF21 tribrach has a 3D system accuracy
of 0.3 mm. Figure 28 shows an earlier version
of the Wild GPH1P reflector. The quoted
'system accuracy' is likely to include the
repeatability of the reflector constant, the
centring of the reflector's axis relative to
vertical and horizontal axes and the centring in
the tribrach. The GPH1P reflector has a metal
housing and carries a quality gun sight to assist
with the pointing. This type of equipment
should be used where such accuracy is required.
Standard EDM reflectors are likely to have a
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 30
'system' accuracy' of typically better than 1
mm. Since the reflectors must face the
instrument(s), all reflectors (and targets for that
matter) must be re-pointed when the instrument
is moved from one station to another.
Figure 28: Precision EDM reflector (rotatable
about two axes) on a ground monitoring point
(after Egger 1997).
Figure 29: Monitoring point on a large
concrete block in an extreme avalanche slope
of a continuous measurement system installed
at the Nalps Dam in Switzerland. The
continuous measurements monitor the length
changes of lines (at different elevation) across
the valley in the dam area whilst the new
Gotthard base tunnel is being drilled underneath
the dam. (after Brker 2006)
If solely robotic measurements are carried out,
only EDM reflectors, properly levelled and
pointed are required. Although 360 reflectors
are available, they introduce errors in angular
and distance measurements. Depending on the
orientation of the prism, errors of 2 mm and 3
mm in the horizontal and vertical coordinates
measured with automatic pointing (Leica TCA
instruments to Leica GZR4 360 reflectors)
were reported by Favre & Flach (1999). 360
prisms are not recommended for the
measurements between reference points (unless
the required precision is not better than, say, 5
mm).
If EDM is used to measure to the object points,
there must be as many prisms available as the
maximum number of reference and object
points visible from any point occupied by the
instrument (e.g. reference points). Consider
Fig. 9 in this context. The manual and robotic
electronic tacheometers might be able to
measure successfully to cheaper reflectors, such
as the one shown in Fig. 18. If cheaper options
are considered, the achievable precision must be
determined by experiment and the inherent
angle/distance errors must be determined as
functions of the incidence angle (vertical and
horizontal) as must be the change of the
reflector constant with distance. (See Reger
(1996) for details.) Note that the reflector
shown in Fig. 18 is unidirectional and must be
rotated each time the surveyor moves the
instrument to a new observing station.
Since reflectors deteriorate if left on structures
for years, they are normally not left on dams
between the measurements. However, if robotic
electronic tacheometers are installed for
around-the-clock measurements, then the
reflectors must be permanently installed.
Depending on what is to be monitored, these
reflectors may have to be mounted on natural
terrain, rock or man-made structures.
Additional problems arise if the site experiences
snow fall in winter. Figure 29 shows that the
supports of permanent prisms can be
substantial, if protection from avalanches has
to be provided.
Changes in Geodetic Measurement or Scheme
Because of the long life of dams, changes in
technology and the ever shrinking service life
of electronic surveying equipment, the
instrumentation used for the geodetic
measurements will necessarily change over the
50 to 100 year life of a dam. Whenever
si gni f i cant changes i n pr ocedur es,
instrumentation and/or network design are
implemented, it is strongly recommended to
measure one epoch with the old and the new
arrangements so that the continuity of the
deformation results can be demonstrated and
assured.
8 OUTLOOK
The changes in dam deformation measurement
during the last 80 years include a move towards
direct measuring devices, such as pendulum and
Overview of Geodetic Deformation Measurements of Dams
ANCOLD 2006 Conference Page 31
wire alignment systems, to allow the (monthly)
measurement of critical deformations with high
precision and by non-surveyors. The geodetic
measuring schemes are now measured less
frequently but, often, extended (frequently with
satellite techniques with no line-of-sight
restrictions) to stable ground further away from
the dam. Since the geodetic schemes provide
absolute data, they serve as a reference
whenever an abnormal behaviour of a dam
requires repeated and, sometimes, extended
measurements. In consequence, it is essential
that the geodetic measurement schemes are well
appointed and maintained.
The pendulum and wire alignment systems
cannot be installed in concrete dams that lack
vertical shafts and horizontal galleries. Where
an installation is feasible, retrofitting of such
devices should be considered. (A wire alignment
along the parapet of straight dams (fill-type and
small concrete type) might be possible.)
Otherwise, the other simple techniques
proposed in Section 2 should be considered.
Permanent installation of a robotic electronic
tacheometer is always an option. Today,
robotic surveying instruments are routinely used
for the continuous monitoring of dam sites in
tectonically active zones.
The 'Guidelines for Dam Instrumentation and
Monitoring Systems' (ANCOLD 1983) contain
some information on the geodetic (surveying)
aspects. Some of the recommendations should
be revised, such as the requirement to measure
angles six times (4.1.2.8 in ANCOLD 1983)
and the proposal to use optical plummets
(4.1.3.10 in ANCOLD 1983). The latter might
be replaced by the simple zenith angle
measurements shown here in Fig. 5b. The
advice on the physical construction of survey
monuments is sound, but often include the
centring bolts shown in Fig. 20(1) that are,
now, no longer commercially available. The
diagrams of key centring components should
show the critical dimensions (so that they can
be manufactured in-house if the devices are no
longer commercially available). The ANCOLD
(1983) guidelines contain no suggestions on
how to mount surveying equipment on the
'Wild' bolts of the type shown in Fig. 20(1).
Some of the mounting procedures currently used
in Australia may not be optimal and may cause
a loss of centring accuracy. The 5/8 inch male
Whitworth thread may be considered in future
where the best possible centring accuracy is not
required.
The ANCOLD (1983) guidelines do not cover
the analysis procedures. Since there is some
doubt that rigorous deformation analyses are
carried out on all Australian dams, some
guidelines on that aspect might be helpful.
Also, any future editions of the guidelines
(ANCOLD 1983) should express the
uncertainty ('precision') of data and results at
95% confidence level or in terms of the
'expanded uncertainty' as defined by the ISO
(1995) 'Guide to the Expression of Uncertainty
in Measurement'.
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