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State of Art of Compacted Concrete

Face Rockfill Dams


B. Matern
(Bayardo Matern & Associates, Brazil)

Bayardo Matern
educated at the Cauca University, Popayn, Colombia (1960) and Purdue
University, Indiana ,USA(1965) where he received his degrees in Civil
Engineering and MSc in Civil Engineering respectively. Since the completion of
the Alto Achicay CFRD in 1974 he has been involved with many leading
engineering organizations in the field of design and construction of rockfill dams.
He participated in the design and construction of the world highest CFRDs including Alto Anchicaya,
Salvajina, Porce III, Ranchera (Colombia); Foz do Areia , Xingo, Segredo, Ita, Itapebi, Machadinho,
Campos Novos, Barra Grande ( Brazil); Aguamilpa and El Cajon, La Parota and La Yesca
(Mxico);Antamina, Torata ( Per);Caracoles, Punta Negra (Argentina); Messochora (Greece);
Kannaviou (Cyprus), Bakun (Malaysia); Mohale ( Lesotho), Tiangshenqiao(China), Krahnjkar
(Iceland), Berg River and Braamhoek ( South Africa), Siah Bishe ( Iran) and Merowe, Sudan. He is now
a Consultant Engineer working in the field of design and construction of Rockfill Dams and the President
of CFRD Int. Society.

1 Introduction
The development of concrete face rockfill dams is well commented in the technical
literature. Cooke [1]. Initially dumped rockfill was used with problems of leakage and
deformation of the rockfill which caused excessive stresses in the concrete face slab and
rupture of the compression joints.
The transition to compacted rockfill occurred during early 60s when in Europe was
developed the vibratory compactor roller. Some concrete and asphalt face dams were
built with compacted rockfill and excellent performance.
This article reviews the progress of the high compacted rockfill concrete face dams since
1960 to present, commenting recent observations in dams related with the compression
joints. The article also refers to the design of the joints of high CFRDs and gives
recommendations for future projects of this type.

2 The Development of the Vibratory Compactor Roller


Before the application of the vibratory roller, most of the CFRDs were built by dumping
rockfill in lifts varying between 18 to 60m and sluicing the rockfill by application of water

in a ratio of 3m for each 1m of rockfill.


The deformation of the rockfill was high causing distresses in the slab with presence of
ruptures and spalling. It is important to mention that CFRDs built with dumped rockfill
presented cracks parallel to the plinth and high spalling in the longest compression joints
when the height of the dam exceeded 75m. Tension stresses close to abutments and
compression stresses buckling the central compression joints were observed.
Therzagui, in 1960, recommended the use of compacted rockfill, in order to reduce
rockfill deformations and sub-sequent damages to the face slab. At the end of 50s
moderate high rockfills, compacted by vibratory rollers, were built in Europe with
excellent results.
Examples of compacted rockfill were:
Quoich
38m
Scotland
Henne
48m
W. Germany
Bigge
48m
W. Germany
Venemo
60m
Norway

3.5t

roller
3.0t
Tamping plate
5.0t
Tamping plate
5.0t
Vibratory roller

However, the vibratory compactors were developed in the 60s when the increase of
compacted concrete face dams was growing up. The vibratory roller compactors opened
the door to increase density of the rockfill and to use different kinds of materials in an
economical and efficient manner.
Nowadays, there are different types of vibratory compactors ranging between 6t to 15t.
The definition of a vibratory roller is always referred to the load acting on the smooth
drum and not to the total weight of the roller. This weight per meter of drum must be
higher than 5t/m, to obtain required densities with vibration ranging between 14001800VPM.

3 Evolution of High CFRDs


Table I, summarizes the evolution of CFRDs since Cethana,110m Australia built in 1971,
to the highest under construction, Shuibuya 233m, China to be completed in 2009. The
table also shows the period of the highest dams.
Table I Progress in Height of Some CFRDs
DAM

HEIGHT M

COUNTRY

FACE SLAB

YEAR OF

REMARKS

AREA M

COMPLETION

HIGHEST PERIOD

Cethana

110m

Australia

30.000

1971

1971-1974

Alto Anchicaya

140m

Colombia

22.000

1974

1974-1980

Mohale

145m

Lesotho

87.000

2002

Highest in Africa

Salvajina

148m

Colombia

57.500

1983

Highest in gravels

Xing

150m

Brazil

13.500

1994

Messochora

150m

Greece

51.000

1995

Highest in Europe

Porce III

155m

Colombia

57.000

2010

U.C.

Foz do Areia

160m

Brazil

139.000

1980

1980-1993

Tankeng

161m

China

68.000

2006

Tiang Shen qiao

178m

China

180.000

1999

Highest in Asia

Hongjiadu

182m

China

76.000

2007

U.C.

Barra Grande

185m

Brazil

108.000

2006

Mazar

185m

Ecuador

45.000

2008

U.C.

Sanbanxi

186m

China

94.000

2008

U.C.

Aguamilpa

187m

Mexico

137.000

1993

1993-2006

El Cajn

189m

Mexico

99.000

2006

Complete

Krahnjkar

196m

Iceland

93.000

2007

U.C.

Campos Novos

202m

Brazil

106.000

2006

2006 Highest

Bakun

205m

Malaysia

127.000

2007

U.C.

La Yesca

210m

Mexico

129.000

2010

U.C.

Shuibuya

233m

China

120.000

2009

U.C

U.C. = under construction

Cethana and Alto Anchicaya were dams well compacted without distresses in the face
slab due to the high rockfill modulus of compressibility ranging between 145MPa and
135MPa respectively.
It has been observed that some cracks sub parallel to the plinth are occurring in
compacted dams due to geometry of the abutments. These cracks are similar to those
observed in dumped rock fills with low moduli.
The effect of grading of the rockfill is very significative in the modulus of the
compressibility of the compacted rock. It has been observed that rockfill from basalt, with
uniform grading, results in high void ratio with rockfill moduli ranging between 30 to
60MPa. ( It, Machadinho, Foz do Areia, Mohale, Segredo, Barra Grande, Campos
Novos)
Well graded rockfills result in low void ratio and high moduli of compressibility, ranging
between
140MPa and 400MPa (Cethana, Alto Anchicaya, Aguamilpa, Salvajina).
Gravels fills are in general well graded and gives high modulus of compressibility and low
deformations in the face slab.

Fig. 1 Cethana Dam, Australia. Highest in 1971-1974

Fig. 2 Campos Novos Dam, Brazil. Highest in

2006.

It is extremely important to evaluate the compressibility of the rockfill before determining


the thickness of layers, the number of passes of the vibratory roller and the addition of
water to the fill.
Recently, during the construction of El Cajn,189m, Mexico, Mendez [2] was observed
that a generous application of water (>250 l/m) and layers of 0.80 -1.00m thick
produced moduli higher dam 140MPa, when the fill was compacted with 6 passes of a
12t vibratory roller.

4 The Use of Extruded Curb


The transition material, 2B, located under the face slab, Fig. 3, was modified by James
Sherard using a processed material with a maximum size of 0.08-0.10m, 35-55% of sand
and fines passing the sieve N. 200 between 2-10%, Matern [3]
This material compacted horizontally by a vibratory roller requires additional compaction
in the up-slope direction of the upstream slope of the dam and protection against erosion.
Many dams were affected by erosion caused by heavy rains or eventual overtopping of
the diversion cofferdams. Consequently, a permanent protection of the upstream face of
the dam was provided by asphaltic emulsions or shotcrete. These operations were costly
and time consuming.
The use of the extruded curb was developed during the construction of the It dam,
120m, Brazil and the method simplified the execution of the CFRDs with many
advantages.
Modern dams in different countries have adopted this technology, which consists of
building a curb of lean concrete over the transition material before the construction of the
next layer. Fig. 4
Advantages of this method have been commented by others. (Resende - Matern) [4]
Which is being applied in the highest concrete face dams anywhere.

Fig. 3 Typical zoning of the CFRD

5 Recent Observations in the Compression Joints


Cracking and over stresses in the compression joints are occurring in high CFRDs in a
similar way observed in dumped rockfills with very low modulus of compressibility.
The first distress in the compression joints was reported for the Tiangshengqiao I, 178m,
China, on July, 2003. A second incident occurred in the same construction joint, which
was previously repaired, on May 2004. The Joint was repaired again by placing a 50 mm
compressible filler. No more damages have been reported.
The second distress incident was presented in Barra Grande, 185m, Brazil, when the
reservoir reached 85% of the maximum head. This event occurred in September 2005.
In October 2005, a similar observation was presented in the longest compression joint of
Campos Novos, 202m, in Brazil extending the damage to the bottom of the dam, and
with some inclined disruptures. In February 2006, some similar disrupters were observed
in Mohale, 145m, Lesotho, Africa.
The excessive compression breaks the concrete affecting the waterstops and increasing
leakage.
It appears that in high dams, specially located in narrow valleys, the deformation of the
face slab induce high compressive stresses in the central compression joints, when the
rockfill modulus of compressibility is relatively low. Fig. 5

6 Design Criteria for High CFRDs


The design criteria discussed in this item refers to the compaction of the rockfill and the
criteria for selecting the dimensions of the face slab and joints. Criteria to determine
slopes and stability analysis are not discussed in this article since they are widely
discussed in International Proceedings. [5];[6];[7];[8];[9]

Fig. 4 Typical construction of extruded curb

Fig. 5 Excessive stress in the compression joint,


affecting the reinforcement, concrete and
waterstops

6.1 Rockfill
Generally, compacted rockfill is designed with the international nomenclature indicated in
Fig.1
Zone 2 B: Cushion Material may be compacted in layers of 0.30; 0.40 and 0.50m
depending of the vibratory, compactor roller and the size of the dam. The usual number is
4-6 passes of the 10t vibratory roller, with a static load of 5t/m over the smooth drum.
Zone 3 A: It is built with the same thickness of zone 2B and compacted as described for
zones 2B, Zones 3B, 3C and T use the recommendations indicated in the Table 2.
Table 2 Required Compaction for high CFRDs
Zone

Layer

Vibratory

N.

Water

CU

Observations

Thickness

Compactors

Passes

1.0m

10T

4-6

200l/m

15

Heavier Vibratory rollers are adequate.

0.6-0.8 m

12T

>200

15

Weight 5t/m drum

1.20

10T

4-6

200l/m

15

Heavier Vibratory rollers are adequate.

0.80

12T

>200l/m

15

Weight 5t/m drum

1.0

10T

4-6

200l/m

15

Located in the middle of the dam.

0.80

12T

200l/m

15

m
3B

3C

In narrow valleys where A/H 4 the compaction has to be intensified to obtain high
modulus of compressibility, where:
A = Face slab area in m
H = Height of the dam in meters

6.2 Concrete Face slab


Thickness and reinforcement
Thickness of the slab should be as follows:

a) Well graded rockfill H <120m


Use formula:
T= 0.30+0,002H m
as applied in Australian Dams.
T = Thickness in meters; H = Height in
meters.
If the rockfill modulus is lower than 100MPa use
T= 0.30+ 0,003H m
Use rebars 0.5% in both directions close to abutments and 0.4% in both directions in the
compression area.
b) Well graded rockfill H >120m
Use formula:
T= 0.30+0.002H up to 120m
H>120m use T=0.0045H
Similar use of reinforcement as in a) above
c) Uniform grading rockfill H <120m
Use formula:
T=0.30+0,003Hm
Use rebars 0.5% in both directions close to abutments and 0.4% in the compression
area.
d) Uniform grading rockfill H >120m
Use formula:
T= 0.30+0,003H up to 120m and
T=0,0045H for H>120m
However, if rockfill modulus is lower than 100MPa increase the thickness of the central
slabs to :
T=0.40m+0.003H up to 120m
For H 120 use
T=0,0063Hm

6.3 Joints
1. Perimetric Joint
Use conventional perimetric joints. Fig. 6 shows the perimetric joint adopted in El Cajn,
189m, Mxico

Fig. 6 Perimetric joint used in El Cajn, Mxico. (F. Mendez)

2. Tension Joints
Use conventional tension joint with copper water stop and mastic on the upper portion of
the slab.
3. Compression Joints

Use compression joints as follows:


(1) Keep the theoretical thickness over the mortar pad.
(2) Place the mortar pad inside the extruded curb.
(3) Reduce the vertical web of the copper water stop to 2cm
(4) Use a filler in the joint. Wood filler or asphaltic filler to mitigate high compressive
stresses.
(5) Reduce the upper V notch to maximum 2cm, or not use V notch
(6) Install anti-spalling rebars. Fig.7

Fig. 7 Compression Joints as used in Krahnjkar,Iceland (H. Perez,MWH)

7 Conclusions
(1) The compacted CFRDs are being applied more frequently in increasing high
structures due to progress in the compaction equipment and new construction techniques
such as the extruded curb. Credit is also given to innovative design of the components of
the dam.
(2) Although the concrete face rockfill structure is safe, the design of the compression
joints and central slabs require modifications, as recommended in this article, to cope
with the high compression stress observed recently in high dams.
(3) High concrete face dams should be better compacted as a whole, to increase the
rockfill modulus of compressibility and minimize deformations of the face slab. Thinner
layer thickness, addition of water and more intense compaction will help to obtain denser
rockfills.

References
[1] Cooke J. Barry; the Concrete face rockfill dam; Especial publication edited by J.
Barry Cooke Consulting Engineer San Rafael, California, USA 1984.
[2] Mendez Fidencio; Rapid Construction of the El Cajn CFRD; Hydropower & Dams
Issue One, 2005.
[3] Resende Fernando; Matern Bayardo; It Method-New Construction Technology for
the transition Zone of CFRDs; CFRD 2000 Proceedings International Symposium on
Concrete Faced Rockfill Dams; September 2000; Beijing, China.
[4] Matern Bayardo; Transition Materials in the Highest CFRDs; Hydropower & Dams,
Volume Five, Issue Six, 1998.
[5] Proceedings, Concrete Face Rockfill Dams, Design Construction, and Performance,

ASCE, Detroit, October 1985.


[6] Proceedings, International Symposium on High Earth- Rockfill Dams - Especially
CFRD, Beijing, October 1993.
[7] Proceedings, Second Symposium on Concrete Face Rockfill Dams, Brazilian
Committee on Dams, Florianopolis, Brazil, October, 1999.
[8] CFRD 2000, Proceedings International Symposium on Concrete Faced Rockfill
Dams, Beijing, and September 2000.
[9] Cooke J. Barry Volume, Concrete Face Rockfill Dams, Beijing September, 2000.

CFRD Int. Society holds its Presidential business meeting


The meeting was held from 19:00~21:00 May 21, 2007 in the Three Gorges Xiba Hotel
China .
Mr. Bayardo Materon Chaired the meeting. Decisions were made as follows:
1. The Journal of CFRD Int. Society is to be published quarterly from this Sept. 2007 in
China, which is in charge of by Mr. Chen Qian.
2. Every member of CFRD Int. Society ought to pay 40 USD as membership fee each
year for publication of the Journal.
Attendees were:
Mr. Alberto Scuero , Italy , Vice President of CFRD Int. Society
Mr. Cao Keming, China, Vice President of CFRD Int. Society
Mr. Chen Qian, China, General Secretary of CFRD Int. Society