You are on page 1of 19


2. Concrete Dams

2.1. Forces Acting and Load combination on dams

The structural integrity of a dam must be maintained across the range of
circumstances or events likely to arise in service. The design is therefore
determined through consideration of corresponding spectrum of loading
conditions. In all foreseeable circumstances the stability of the dam and
foundation must be ensured, with stresses contained at acceptable levels and
watertight integrity essentially unimpaired.
The Gravity dam is subjected to the following main forces
1. Water Pressure (Water load) 5. Silt Pressure
2. Weight of the Dam (Self weight) 6. Ice Pressure
3. Seepage and Uplift Pressure 7. Wind Pressure
4. Wave Pressure 8. Earth Quake Force

Figure 2.1 Schematic of principal loads: Gravity dam profile

Loads can be classified in terms of applicability or relative importance as
primary loads, secondary loads, and Exceptional loads.
i) Primary loads: - are identified as those of major importance to all dams
irrespective of type. Example self weight, water & related seepage loads.
ii) Secondary loads: - are universally applicable although of lesser magnitude
(e.g. Silt load) or alternatively are of major importance only to certain types
of dam (e.g. thermal effects with in concrete dams).
iii) Exceptional loads:- are so designed on the basis of limited general
applicability of occurrence (e.g. tectonic effects, or the inertia loads
associated with seismic activity)
Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


Gravity dam Loads

It is convenient to compute all the forces per unit length of the dam.
i. Primary Loads
Water Load: - the water pressure acts on the u/s and d/s faces of the dam. The
water pressure on the u/s face is the main destabilizing (or over turning) force
acting on a gravity dam. The tail water pressure helps in stability. The tail water
pressure is small in comparison to water pressure on the u/s face.
The water pressure always acts normal to the surface. While computing the
forces due to water pressure on inclined surface, it is convenient to determine
the components the forces in horizontal and vertical directions instead of the
total force on the inclined surface directly. The forces due to water pressure are
discussed below separately for the non-overflow and section and overflow
a. Non- overflow section
i. Upstream Vertical face:-

The horizontal component is given

PH = H 2
It acts horizontally at H/3 form the
base of the dam
The tail water pressure is
PH = H ' ( ) 2

It acts at H/3 form the base of the


ii. Up stream inclined face:-

The horizontal component is given

PH = H 2
It acts horizontally at H/3 form the
base of the dam
The vertical component Pv of the
water pressure per unit length is
equal to the weight of the water.
PV = PV 1 + PV 2

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


The tail water is the same in both net.

cases, and it has a vertical compone-
b. Overflow Section:-
i. Upstream vertical face:-
The horizontal component is given
H + H 2
PH = 1 + H a (H 2 + H 1 )
It acts horizontally at
_ 2 H + 3H a + H 2
Z = (H 1 + H a ) 1
3 H1 + 2H a + H 2
the base of the dam. If the velocity of
approach (Va) is neglected, Ha is taken
as zero in the above equation.

ii. Up Stream inclined face:-

The horizontal component force will

be the same as previous, however
there will additional vertical force
due to the weight of the water in
triangular prism ABC, and it acts on
the centroid of the area.

Self Weight load

It is the main stabilizing force in gravity dam. Determined with respect to an
appropriate unit weight of the material
Pm=c Ap KN/m
acts through the centroid of x- sectional area AP.
(c 23.5 KN/m3)
Where crest gates & other ancillary structures of considerable weight exist they
must also be considered in determining Pm & their appropriate position of line
of action.
Seepage & Uplift load:

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


The water enters the pores, cracks and fissures within the body of the dam, at
the interface between the dam and within the foundation. Because the water
under pressure, it creates uplift pressure on the dam. The pressure acts in all
directions, but the pressure acting upwards is important for the design of the
dam, as it reduces the effective weight of the dam. The magnitude of the uplift
pressure depends upon; the character of the foundation, the materials used in
construction, grout curtains, the drainage conditions, and method of
construction. The computation of forces due to uplift pressure requires the
determination of the area on which it acts and intensity of the uplift pressure at
various points.
a. Area Factor: - the uplift pressure generally does not occur on the entire
horizontal area, because in some portions, there are no pores in which water
can enter. The area factor can be determined experimentally. The modern
practice is to take the area factor as unity, i.e. it is assumed that the uplift
pressure acts on 100% of the horizontal area within the body of the dam, at
the interface, and within the foundations.
b. Intensity of Uplift pressure: - the uplift pressure at any point depends upon
the depth of the water at that point. The pressure variation along the base is
assumed to be linear between the u/s and d/s faces.

Total uplift force on the base of the

U = average pressures intensity * area
H +H' (
* (1 * B )

5H + 2 H '
acts @ Z = form the toe of
3(H + H ')
the dam

c. Effect of drains on uplift pressure:- to reduce the uplift pressure, drains are
formed through the body of the dam and also drainage holes are drilled in the
foundation rock. These drains and drainages holes are usually provided near
the u/s face.

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


Pu = Ah (Uw ,avg)
H + H'
= . Ah . w if no drain functioning.
is area reduction factor
Ah nominal plane area at a section considered Ah = (B*1)
If no drains functioning
T (2 H 2 + H 1 )
Pu acts at Y1 = m
3 H 2 + H1
In modern dams internal uplift is controlled by the provision of vertical relief
drains close behind the u/s face. Mean effective head at the line of drains, Zd can
be expressed as
Hd = H2+Kd(H1-H2)m
Kd is function of drain geometry (i.e. diameter, special & relative
location with u/s face.)
Kd= 0.33 (USBR)
Kd = 0.25 Tennessee valley Authority
Kd= 0.25-0.5 appropriate to the site by the U.S crops of Engs
The standard provision of deep grout curtain below the u/s face intended to limit
seepage also serves to inhibit pressure within the foundation. However, less
certain than efficient draw system & its effect is commonly disregarded in uplift
d. Effect of Tension Crack: - the uplift pressure diagram gets modified if a
tension crack develops in concrete. The tension crack occurs on the u/s side
of horizontal section if the reservoir water pressure (H ) exceeds the vertical

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


stress ( f yu ) . The horizontal tension crack extends form the u/s upto a point
were the computed stress is just equal to the reservoir water pressure H

Total uplift force

U = B'+ (H + H ')(B B')

Example: - Determine the uplift force at the base of the gravity dam shown
below with the following three cases
i. No drain
ii. With drain and grout curtain at a distance of 5m form the u/s end
iii. Tension crack upto 2m from the u/s end
ii. Secondary loads
Wave Pressure (hydrodynamic wave load): - Waves are generated on the
surface of the reservoir by the blowing winds, which cause a pressure towards
the d/s side. Wave pressure depends upon the wave height. Wave height may
be given by the equation:-
hw = 0.032 UF + 0.763 0.271 4 F if F 32 Km
hw = 0.032 UF if F > 32 Km
Where: - hw height of the wave
U wind velocity in km/hr
F fetch or straight length of water expanse in km

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


The transient load, Pwave, generated by wave action against the dam is not
normally significant. The maximum pressure intensity due to wave action is
Pwave = 2.4 w hw and hence the total force will be

Fw = 2.0 w hw2 and acts at height of 0.375h above the still water level

Example: - Determine the force due to wave pressure on a dam with the
following data: Fetch of the reservoir and velocity of the wind are 100km &
80km/hr respectively.
Sediment load:
Silt is deposited in the reservoir on u/s of the dam. This silt exerts the earth
pressure on the dam, similarly to that in the case of an earth retaining wall.
The generated horizontal thrust, Ps has vertical and horizontal component,
and is a function of the sediment depth hs, submerged unit weight s & active
lateral pressure coefficient Ka

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


Case (a) when it has a vertical u/s face and Case (b) when it has inclined u/s face,
in case b it will have a vertical component
1 .h 2
Ps = K a s s & acting @ hs/3 above the base of the dam
s = s-w where s is sediment saturated unit weight
1 Sin s
Ka = Where s is angle of shearing resistance
1 + Sin s
For representative values of s 18-20KN/m3
3 Z 32
s 300 Ps
Just after constriction of the dam, the depth (hs) of the silt is zero. It increases
gradually with time, and finally it becomes equal to the height of the dead
storage. It is usual practice to assume the value of hs is equal to the height of
dead storage above the base.
In design of dams, the silt pressure is sometimes neglected because of the
following reason: Initially, the silt is not present, and by the time, it becomes
significant in depth, it had already been consolidated under the weight and it
becomes more like a solid and less like a liquid. Moreover, the deposited silt is
some what impervious and helps in reducing the uplift pressure on the dam.
Wind load: when the dam is full, wind acts only on the d/s side thus
contribute to stability. When empty the wind can act on the u/s face but in
significant compared to hydrostatic load. For buttress dams load on the exposed
surface has to be considered.
Ice load: Not a problem in Ethiopia. It can be significant where ice sheets
form to appreciable thickness & persist for lengthy periods.
Pice =145 KN/m2 for ice > 0.6m thick, other wise neglected
Thermal & dam /foundation interaction effect: Cooling of large pours of
mass concrete following the exothermic hydration of cement & the
subsequent variation in ambient & water temperatures combine to produce
complex & time dependent temp gradients within the dam equally. Complex
interaction develops as a result of foundation deformation.
iii. Exceptional Loads
Seismic load: if the designed dam is located in a region which is susceptible to
earth quakes, allowance must be made for the stresses generated by the earth
quake. An earth quake produces waves which are capable of shaking the earth
upon which the dam is resting, in every direction. The effect of earth quake is,
therefore, equivalent to imparting acceleration to the foundations of the dam
in the direction in which the wave traveling at the moment. The dam has to
resist the inertia forces caused by the sudden movement of earths crust. If
the ground under a dam moves, the dam must also move with it to avoid

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


rupture. Inertia forces must be considered in the design of dam to avoid

failure due to earth quake. Inertia force always acts opposite to the direction
of earth quake acceleration.
The magnitude of the earth quake force depends upon a number of factors,
such as the severity of earth quake, the mass of the dam and the elasticity of
the material of the dam. The earth quake acceleration usually expressed as a
fraction the acceleration due to gravity (g) is equal to g where is the
seismic coefficient.
Earth quake force on the body of the dam
1. Effect of horizontal acceleration: - the horizontal acceleration can
occur in either u/s or d/s directions, because the dam is design for
worst case, the horizontal acceleration is assumed to occur in the
direction which would produce the worst combination of the forces.
i. Reservoir full condition: - the worst case occurs when the earth
quake acceleration moves towards the u/s direction and the
corresponding inertia force acts in the d/s direction.
ii. Reservoir empty condition: - the worst case occurs when the earth
quake acceleration moves towards the d/s direction and the
corresponding inertia force acts in the u/s direction.
The horizontal force due to the earth quake is equal to the product of mass M of
the dam and horizontal acceleration
Fh = * h g = hW The force is assumed to act at the center of gravity of mass.
2. Effect of horizontal acceleration:- due to vertical acceleration, the
inertia forces act on the dam and on the water. The magnitude is
Fv = * v g = vW
If the vertical acceleration acts down wards, the inertia force acts
upwards, and the effective weight of the dam and water decreases;
hence the stability reduce, because in a gravity dam the main stabilizing
force the weight of the dam and vise versa.
Since the vertical acceleration does not alter the volume of the concrete
in the dam and the water in the reservoir, the modified weights of the
dam and the water may be use in the analysis
Modified weight = W ' = W V W = W (1 V )
Earth quake force on the body of the water
1. Effect of horizontal acceleration on water (Hydrodynamic pressure):-
the horizontal acceleration acting u/s towards the reservoir causes a
momentary increase in the water pressure. The dam and its foundation

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


accelerate towards the reservoir and the water resists the movement
owing to its inertia, and hence the water pressure increased. The
additional water pressure in known as the hydrodynamic pressure. The
following simplified methods are used to estimate the hydrodynamic
pressure variations.
a. Van Kormans methods:- suggested that the hydrodynamic pressure
has parabolic variation and the pressure force
Fe = 0.555 v H 2 acts at above the base
b. Zangers methods:- the intensity of the hydrodynamic pressure at a
depth y below the water surface in the reservoir with the total depth
of water H is given by
Pey = C h H C is dimensionless coefficient and is given by
y y
Cm y y
2 + 2 and C m = 0.7351
2 H H 90
The corresponding total hydrodynamic force and moment is given as
Peh = C h H
Feh = 0.726(Pey * H )
M eh = 0.299 Pey * H 2 )
Load combinations
All forces which we discussed in the preceding sections may not act
simultaneously on the dam. A concrete dam should be designed with regard
to the most rigorous adverse groupings or combination of loads which have a
reasonable probability of simultaneous occurrence. Different design
authorities have different load combinations.
There are three nominated load combinations in USA standard which is
sufficient for almost all circumstances. In ascending order of severity we can
have normal, unusual & extreme load combination (NLC, ULC, ELE
respectively) (see the table below). With probability of simultaneous
occurrence of load combination decreases, factor of safety should also
Nominated Load combination (after USBR, 1987; Kennard Owens and Reader 1995)
Load Combination
Load Source Qualification a


Water DFL
Tail water TWL
Self weight -------

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


Uplift Drains functioning

Drains inoperative _b
Ice Discretionary
Concrete Minimum normal
Temperature Min. @ time of event
Seismic CME (control max. EQ)
Studies and investigations may be appropriate with respect to nominated load combinations in relation
to foundation stability and/or any other loading combination which it is considered appropriate to
analyze the dam under review.
DFL: Design flood level
NML: Normal maximum level
CME: Control maximum earth quake
_b ULC should also be investigated for the drains inoperative condition
The nominated load combinations as defined in the table are not universally
applicable. An obligation remains with the designer to exercise discretion in
defining load combinations which properly reflect the circumstance of the
dam under consideration.


Stability Requirements of Gravity dam
The gravity dam must be in overall equilibrium (i.e. structurally safe and
stable). It should not move in any direction or rotate about any point. In
addition to the overall stability, the internal stresses induced anywhere in the
dam must be within the safe limits. The foundation should be able to
withstand the imposed loads. The essential conditions for structural
equilibrium and to make the structure stable, the following governing criteria
should be satisfied;

H = V = 0 determine that no translational moment is possible

M = 0 proscribes any rotational movement

Assumptions inherent in preliminary analyses using the gravity methods

1. The concrete in the dam is homogenous, isotropic, and elastic
2. The dam consists of a number of vertical cantilevers of unit length, each
cantilever acting independent of the adjoining cantilevers
3. The stress in the dam and its foundation are within elastic limits
4. There is a perfect rigid bond between the dam and its foundation and both
behaves as one unit
5. All loads are transferred to the foundation by the cantilever action. No loads
are transferred to the abutments by the beam action
6. The foundation is strong and unyielding. No movement is caused in the
foundation due to the imposed load

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


7. Small openings, such as galleries and shafts, do not affect the overall stability
of the dam
8. The vertical stresses on a horizontal plane vary linearly from u/s to d/s faces
9. The horizontal shear stresses on a horizontal plane vary parabolically form the
u/s to d/s
The gravity dam must be designed such that it is safe against all possible mode
of failure, with adequate factor of safety. The dam may fail in one or more of the
following modes:-
a. Rotation and Overturning c. Over stressed and material
b. Translation and Sliding Failure

Over turning


X Stres X

a) Overturning stability
Factor of safety against over farming, Fo, in terms of moment about the d/s toe
of the dam
+ ve
Fo = inclusive of moment generated by uplift )

Fo > 1.25 may be acceptable, but Fo > 1.5 is desirable.

b) Sliding stability
Factor of safety against sliding, FS, estimated using one of the three definitions:
1) Sliding factor, FSS;
2) Shear friction factor, FSF or
3) Limit equilibrium factor, FLE.
The resistance to sliding or shearing which can be mobilized across a plane is
expressed through parameters C & tan.

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


1) Sliding factor, FSS

H if it has a horizontal plane
c) Stress analysis: gravity method
Gravity method is useful to analyses stress in straight dams which are not
geometrically complex. It is founded on 2-D elastic dam on uniformly rigid
foundation & linear variation of stress from u/s to d/s.
The stresses evaluated in a comprehensive analysis are:
1) Vertical normal stress, z, on horizontal planes
2) Horizontal & vertical shear stress, zy & yz
3) Horizontal normal stress, y ,on vertical planes and
4) Principal stress, 1 & 3 (direction & magnitude).

1. Vertical normal stress z

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


Analysis is based on modified beam theory which is by combining axial &

bending load

z =
V M * y ,
Ab I
Where:- v- resultant vertical load above the plane considered exclusive of uplift.
M* - summation of moments expressed w.r.t the centroid of the plane
y - distance from the centroid to point of considerations
I - second moment of area of the plane w.r.t centroid.
For 2-D plane section of unit width Parallel to the dam axis, & with thickness T
normal to the axis:
V Vey , v 6e
z = 12 and at y =T/2 and results z = 1
T T3 T T
For reservoir full condition
v 6e
At the u/s face zu 1 and
v 6e
At the d/s face zd = 1+

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


Where e is the eccentricity of the resultant load, R, which must intersect the
plane d/s of its centroid for the reservoir full condition and the sign convention
is reversed for reservoir empty condition of loading.
The eccentricity is determined by evaluating the moments, M* , given by
M *
e= Where v - excludes uplift
For e > T/6, at u/s face ve stress is developed, i.e. tensile stress. In design,
tensile stress has to be permissible, but difficult to totally eliminate low tensile
stress in gravity dam. Total vertical stresses at either face are obtained by the
addition of external hydrostatic pressure.
2. Horizontal shear stresses:- The vertical stress intensity, max or min determined
v 6e
form z = 1 is not the maximum direct stress produced anywhere in the
dam. The maximum normal stress will be, in fact, be the major principal stresses
that will be generated on the major principal plane. Numerically equal &
complementary horizontal (zy) and vertical (yz) shear stresses are generated at
any point as a result of variation of vertical normal stress over a horizontal

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


u/s and d/s face angle u & d respectively & Pw hydrostatic pressure at u/s end,
when the reservoir is full the maximum vertical stress occurs at the toe of the
dam. The major principal stresses is given by
d = f yd sec 2 d P' tan 2 d if there is no tail water d = f yd sec 2 d
The maximum shear stress at the d/s edge of toe is given by
d = f yd P' tan d if there is no tail water d = f yd tan d
When the reservoir is empty the maximum vertical stress occurs at the heel of
the dam. The major principal stresses is given by
u = f yu sec 2 u PW tan 2 u if there is no tail water u = f yu sec 2 u
The maximum shear stress at the u/s edge of heel is given by
[ ]
u = f yu PW tan u the major principal stress acts on the u/s face and is
equal to Pw . for the reservoir empty conditions, Pw = 0 u = f yu tan u
To avoid overstressing of the material, the principal stresses should not exceed
the allowable compressive stress in the dam and foundation.
3. Principal stresses
1& 3 may be determined from knowledge of z& y and construction of Mohrs
circle diagram to represent stress conditions at a point, or by application of the
equation given below.
z +y
Major Principal Stress 1 = + max
Minor principal stress 3 = z max
1/ 2
z y
Where max = + 2
The u/s and d/s faces are each planes of zero shear, and therefore planes of
principal stress. The boundary values, 1 & 3 are determined by: -

For upstream face

1u= zu (1+ tan2u) - Pw tan 2u
3u = Pw

For downstream face assuming no tail water

1d=zd (1+tan 2d)

Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse


Year2010/11 DerejeTadesse