2013 – Fault rupture hazard assessments for dam foundations: examples from contrasting tectonic environments

Tim McMorran and Alan Hull

Accurate assessment of potential fault rupture hazard in dam sites is a critical factor in managing dam safety. Assessment of the location and activity of a surface fault within or near an existing or proposed dam can be technically challenging, expensive and affect design and construction schedules.
Three examples from regions of relatively high, moderate and low tectonic activity are used to illustrate that fault rupture hazard assessment is generally feasible in regions with high rates of tectonic activity, historic earthquake occurrence and the presence of Quaternary and Holocene-age landforms and sediments. In regions with relatively low rates of tectonic activity and landscape development, the fault rupture hazard assessment is more challenging.
The examples illustrate that robust geologic and geomorphic analysis provides critical information on the fault rupture hazard at existing and proposed dams. These analyses assist dam owners to obtain a more complete understanding of the fault rupture hazard at their facility, and support their longer term risk assessments.

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