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2D Nonlinear Analysis of Asphaltic Concrete -Core Embankment Dams



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4 authors, including:

A. Ghalandarzadeh
University of Tehran


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The 12th International Conference of
International Association for Computer Methods and Advances in Geomechanics (IACMAG)
1-6 October, 2008
Goa, India

2D Nonlinear Analysis of Asphaltic Concrete - Core Embankment Dams

S. Feizi-Khankandi, A.A. Mirghasemi, A. Ghalandarzadeh and K. Hoeg*

Dept. of Civil Engineering, University of Tehran, Iran
* University of Oslo, Norway

Keywords: nonlinear analyses, asphaltic concrete core

ABSTRACT: Seismic behavior of a rockfill dam with asphalt concrete core has been studied. The numerical analyses
have been performed for a typical 110 m high asphaltic concrete core rockfill dam (Garmrood dam as a case study). The
different stages of construction and impounding were analyzed using the hyperbolic model in FLAC program. Then
nonlinear dynamic analyses were performed to investigate of asphaltic core behavior under earthquake loading. The
results show the appropriate response of the dam during and after earthquake shocking.

1 Introduction
Asphalt concrete has been used for 50 years for impervious interior core walls in hydraulic structures such as
embankment dams. So far, about more than 80 asphalt concrete core dams have been constructed. The most important
engineering properties of the asphalt concrete used in hydraulic structures are workability during placing and compaction,
impermeability, flexibility and ductility to avoid cracking as a result of unfavorable filed stress and deformation conditions.
In the regions with cold and rainy weather, construction of this kind of dam is easier than earth core dams. For many
years, monitoring of these dams has indicated their good behavior during construction and operation (Creegan and
Monismith, 1996; Hoeg, 1993; ICOLD, 1992). However, little information exists on the behavior of asphalt concrete dams
subjected to seismic loads. There are only a few published documents that provide information on the behavior of
asphalt concrete used as impervious water barriers in dams during and after earthquake shaking. In this study,
Garmrood dam with the height of 110 m was selected as a case study. The results from numerical analyses will show the
response of this kind of core under static and dynamic loading in comparison with clayey cores.

2 Seismo-tectonic features of Garmrood Dam

Garmrood dam is located near Babol city, north of Iran, in a very high seismic zone where the active periods have been
observed occasionally. The dam is placed in a U- shape and symmetric valley underlain by a conglomerate foundation.
This conglomerate is classified as a weak rock. The dam height is nearly 110 m and the vertical asphalt concrete core,
as a watertight element, does have 1-meter width is surrounded by filters and transitions in upstream and downstream
regions. In addition for getting good results; 200 m from downstream and upstream and 100 m from foundation is

3 Numerical analyses

All analyses are based on 2D analyses that assume plane-strain conditions. This is exactly valid only for infinitely-long
dams subjected to a “synchronous” base excitation. Figure 1 shows the cross section of created grid for a typical dam.
For accurate representation of wave transmission in the model, during dynamic analyses, the spatial element sizes were
selected small enough that satisfy the following criteria expresses by Kuhlemeyer and Lysmer(1973):
Δl ≤ (1)
Where λ is the wave length associated with the highest frequency component that contains appreciable energy and l is

the length of element.

4 Static analyses

The static analyses were carried out for various stages including end of construction and impounding. The hyperbolic
model (Duncan and Chang, 1970) was used in these analyses.
Table 1(I) presents the material properties for numerical analyses. Properties of shell and transition layers are obtained
from the consulting engineers reports for this dam (Mahab-Ghodss, 2004; Feizi-Khankandi et al., 2004).

Fig. 1 Generated mesh for Garmrood dam

Table 1: Geotechnical parameters

I: Static analyses
A: hyperbolic model parameters for shell and transitions layers

Zone Material 2
γ( t / m ) Ki Kb Kur n m Rf C(Pa) φ Δφ K(cm/sec)

1 Transition 1.9 200 150 400 0.4 0.5 0.7 0.05E5 35 3 1E-4

2 Shell 2 400 250 700 0.65 0.50 0.7 .05E5 40 4.5 1E-3

B: Mohr-Columb model parameters for foundation and asphalt concrete

Zone Material γ( t / m )
E( kg / cm ) ν C (kg / cm2 ) φ K(cm/sec)

3 Foundation 1.9 3000 0.3 0.05E5 30 5E-5

4 Asphaltic Core 2.42 1500 0.45 18 17 1E-8

II: Dynamic properties

Asphalt concrete Transitions Shell
γ( t / m ) 2.42 1.9 2.0
n 0.03 0.2 0.3
ν 0.45 0.3 .25

8400 (2.17 − e) ( σ َo) 13000 ( 2.17 − e) ( σ َo)

2 2
2.5 0.6 0.55
Gmax (GPa)
(Ohne et. al) 1+ e 1+ e
Damping (%) 4 5
(Ohne et. al)

4.1 End of construction stage

The analyses were performed using staged construction at 29 layers. In this stage, materials weight is the only loading of
the dam body. Figures 2 and 3 show the vertical and horizontal displacements contours. The maximum settlement
occurs inside the shell. The amount of maximum settlement is nearly 1.5 m. Horizontal displacement has symmetric
contours with the maximum of 35 cm.

Fig. 2 Settlement contours at E.O.C stage

Fig. 3 Horizontal displacement contours at E.O.C stage

4.2 Impounding stage

Water level increased to a height of 100 m above the base at three stages. During impounding, the
hydrostatic force acts on the surface of the asphalt core. It is because of very low permeability of asphalt
concrete in comparison with the shell and transition materials.

Vertical and horizontal displacements contours are plotted in Figures 4 and 5. Maximum settlement is
observed 60 cm in upstream region. Saturation of the upstream shell causes to decrease the material’s
density. For this reason, the uplift forces are exerted to the aggregates and a little heave occurs inside the
upstream shell. The amount of the mentioned heave is about 25 cm. Figure 6 shows the pore pressure
contour during the impounding stage. It is clearly seen that the amount of pore pressure suddenly falls

inside the asphalt concrete core because of the very low permeability of asphalt concrete. The total stresses
increase while the effective stresses in the upstream shell reduce. However, the values of effective
horizontal stresses in downstream are affected more than those of values in the upstream side. This causes
that the all of the dam body moves to the downstream side.

Fig. 4 Settlement contours at impounding stage

Fig. 5 Horizontal displacements contours at Fig.6 Pore pressure contours at Imp. stage
impounding stage

5 Dynamic analyses

The mechanical behavior of structures can be quiet complex under static. Three broad classes of soil model are
equivalent linear, cyclic nonlinear and advanced constitutive models (Kramer, 1996). In present paper, the
nonlinear model was used for dynamic analysis.

5.1 Material model and properties in the Dynamic Analysis

The material model (for filter, transition and shell) used in the nonlinear elasto plastic dynamic analysis is a strain-
hardening/softening model based on FLAC Mohr-Coulomb model. It has the possibility that the cohesion, friction,
dilation and tensile strength may harden or soften after the onset of plastic yield. The

frictional hardening relation used in this research is the one proposed by Vermeer and de Borst (1984):
ε pε f
sin ϕ m = 2 sin ϕ for ε p ≤ ε f
εp +ε f
sin ϕ m = sin ϕ for ε p > ε f
ϕ = Ultimate friction angle
ϕ m = mobilized friction angle
ε p = plastic shear strain, and
ε f = plastic shear strain at ultimate friction angle.
Ultimate friction angles in rockfill, transition and asphaltic core are 46o, 38o and zero respectively.
For elastic properties in the unloading stress path and for the equivalent linear method the small strain shear
modulus, Gmax is used. This shear modulus is a function of effective confining pressure, Ishihara (1986):

σ ' o = (σ '1 +σ ' 2 +σ '3 ) / 3 (3)

For crushed rock, Kokusho and Esashi (1981):

(2.17 − e) ( σ َ )0.55
G mas = 13000 o (4)
1+ e

For transition Zone Kokusho and Esashi (1981):

(2.17 − e) ( σ َ )0.6
G max = 8400 o (5)
1+ e
The amount of viscous damping is taken as four percent which is added to the hysteretic damping. The unloading
which occurs in the elastic space uses the original un-softened values.

For the asphalt concrete, there is not any empirical relation to obtain shear modulus and there are only a few
published documents on dynamic behavior of this material.

5.2 Nonlinear analysis

The nonlinear stress-strain behavior of materials (such as soil and asphalt concrete) can be represented more
accurately by cyclic nonlinear models that follow the actual stress-strain path during cyclic loading. After
completion of the static stages, the dynamic analyses were performed. The elasto-plastic model (Mohr-Coulomb)
was used for all materials incorporated in of the dam body. These analyses were performed for maximum credible
level (MCL) event with a maximum acceleration of 0.54g ( a max = 0.54 g ). Figure 7 shows the acceleration history
of input motion.

The value of shear modulus and damping ratio were selected 2500 MPa and 0.25 respectively to use in dynamic
analyses for asphalt concrete core. Dynamic properties for the shell and transition materials are presented in
table 1(II). Acceleration response of the crest is shown in Figure 8. The maximum acceleration experienced near
the crest is 1.40g.

Amplification factor is defined with the following relation :
An −1
AF = (6)
Where, Ai = recorded acceleration in different heights of asphalt concrete core.
Subsequently, the value of amplification factor is calculated based on the defined relation:
a crest (7)
AF = = 2.59
The maximum settlement occurs near the dam crest and its value is nearly 2 m. The amount of shear strain on
plane 45o was calculated and plotted in Figures 9. This figure shows the variation of strain in the asphalt core on
the dam height.

The induced shear strains are small within the core, except for the upper part of the core. Its maximum value is
less than 0.5 % near the crest. Should cracks develop in the core wall due to seismic event, the viscoelaso-plastic
and a ductile property of a properly designed core provides a self healing ability, hence the cracks will seal with
time. Another important point is about the relative settlement between the upstream and downstream transitions,
shell material and asphalt concrete core (Fig. 9).

Fig. 7 Input acceleration time history

Fig. 8 Time history of acceleration at the crest

Aphalt core







0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50

shear strain(%)

Fig. 9 Maximum strain in core and transions

The value of shear strain in transition layers either side of the core is very large and it means that this material
behaves completely as a plastic material with a deformation quiet different with the core deformation. Hence,
ICOLD recommendation to construct of the asphalt concrete core with small inclination at upper part of the core
seems appropriate.

6 Summary and conclusions

- Deformations of asphalt core are completely dependent to the shell deformations and one meter thin wall core
can not affect the general behavior of the dam.

- During impounding of the dam, hydrostatic loads act on the surface of asphalt core and the most of water head
loss occurs inside the thin core. It is because of very low permeability of the core in comparison with the filter and
shell materials.

- During the dynamic loading, different displacements between the thin core and transition layers are observed.

- Nonlinear analyses shows that the amount of cyclic shear strain is very small inside the asphalt core in
comparison with the filter and transition layers. Value of cyclic shear strain is nearly 0.5 % in the thin core. This
value in transition layers either side of the core is very high and it means that these materials have reached to
plastic mode.

- This study that the asphaltic concrete core type for Garmrood dam have suitable response during earthquake
shocking and very resistant versus earthquake loading. It is also seen that the asphaltic concrete is resistant to
earthquake excitations and the earthquake has to be very strong to cause any detrimental cracking or material
degradation of the properties of a ductile asphaltic concrete core.

7 References

Creegan, P., and Monismith, C. 1996. Asphaltic concrete water barriers for embankment dams, ASCE Press,

Feizi-Khankandi, S., Mirghasemi, A.. A., Ghanooni, S.2004. Behavior of Asphaltic Concrete Core Rockfill Dams, Published in
International conference on Geotechnical Engineering(ICGE) ( UAE)

Hoeg, K.. 1993. Asphaltic Concrete Cores for Embankment Dams, Norwegian Geotechnical Institute of Technology, Oslo,

ICOLD Press, Bituminous cores for earth and rockfill dams, Bulletin 42& 84, 1982, 1992

Ishihara, K., 1986. Evaluation of soil properties for use in earthquake response analysis, Geo-mechanical modeling in
engineering practice ( Netherlands)

Kokusho, t., and Esashi, Y., 1981.Cyclic triaxial test on sands and coarse materials, Proceedings of 10 International
Conference on Soil Mechanics and Foundation Engineering, (Quoted by Ishihara 1986), Stockholm ( Sweden)

Kramer, S., 1996. Geotechnical earthquake engineering, (USA)

Kuhlemeyer, R.L. and Lysmer, J. 1973., Finite element method accuracy for wave propagation problems, J. of soil mechanics
and foundations, Div. ASCE, 99(SM5), 421-427

Mahab-Ghodss report. 2007. Garmrood dam, Iran

Ohne, Y., Nakamura, Y., Okumura, T. and Narita, K.. 2002. Earthquake damage an its remedial measure for earth dams with
asphalt facing, 3.US-Japan workshop on earthquake engineering for dams, 15-26, Japan

Vermeer, P.A. and de Borst, R. 1984. Non-Associated plasticity for soils, concrete and rock”, Heron, 29(3), 1-64, (Quoted by
Itasca 1998), USA


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