2016 – Non-Destructive Testing of Dam Structures to Facilitate Information Based Decision Making When Determining Dam Risk Profiles

Alan P. Jeary, James O’Grady, Thomas Winant

Mainmark are introducing the STRAAM system of full scale non-destructive testing for dams into Australia and New Zealand. Advances in measuring extremely low amplitude vibrations combined with methods for extracting the unique dynamic signature have now enabled the rapid measurement of the response of earthen and concrete dams. This ability allows the quick calibration of Finite Element Models that can be used to accurately assess the strength of a dam. Furthermore, this information allows dam owners to efficiently track changes in the capacity of their dams due to aging, earthquake or flood activity through changes in the dynamic.

The STRAAM system measures the vibration of the dam structure to establish the natural frequencies, mode shapes and associated damping ratios of the dam. The field measurements are correlated with a three-dimensional finite element model to fine tune the effects of abutments and foundations on the three dimensional model. Because of the sensitivity of the instrumentation and the novelty of the analysis techniques, the information available to dam managers allows information-based decisions to be made in a way that optimizes the financial implications. In addition, the techniques are non-invasive and non- destructive and they give additional information about the connectivity of the dam with the surrounding terrain, and whether that connectivity is compromised by water seepage.

This paper discusses the results obtained from field measurements from four dams located in Switzerland, USA and Scotland.

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