2004 – Safety Assessment for Active Faulting within the Aviemore Dam Foundation and Reservoir, New Zealand

J Walker, M Gillon and L Mejia

The Aviemore Dam was built in the late 1960’s and is located on the Waitaki River in the South Island of New Zealand. It is comprised of a 56m high earth dam and a concrete dam housing the power plant and spillway. The dam is located across the Waitangi Fault. This fault was considered to be an ‘inactive’, normal fault at the time the dam was built. The dam is owned and operated by Meridian Energy Ltd.

This paper is in two parts. The first is to introduce the owners Dam Safety management processes. The second discusses the application of these processes to a State of the Art investigation of the faults near the dam, the derivation of seismic loads and the assessment of the dam for seismic loads including potential movement on the Waitangi Fault affecting both the earth dam and the reservoir.

Notable features of the work will be described including:

  • Trenching studies in glacial materials and utilising new dating methods
  • Discovery that recent fault movement has occurred
  • Estimation of seismic ground motion and fault movement loads for a magnitude Mw 7.0 earthquake under the dams.
  • Assessment of the earth and concrete dam performance under extremely high ground motion and fault movement loads.
  • Assessment of overtopping risk resulting from seiche waves on the lake due to the uplift of the major part of the lake floor.
  • The conclusions of the Seismic Safety Evaluation of Aviemore Dam
  • The owner’s response at various stages in the project.
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