Numerical Simulation Using the Finite Element Method to Investigate the Effect of Horizontal Drains and Cutoff Walls on Seepage and Uplift Pressure in Heterogeneous Earth Dams


Because of the potential hazards and repercussions of dam failure for downstream populations, earth dam design and problems are key considerations both during and after construction. The effectiveness of using cutoff walls and horizontal drains to reduce seepage flow from a conventional heterogeneous earth dam is the subject of this research. The primary goal of this research is to determine an appropriate horizontal drain length in earth dam downstream shells, as well as the ideal location for cut off walls in earth dam foundations. Various cutoff wall depths and horizontal drain lengths are positioned under the earth dam at various sites for this purpose. The numerical simulation method is used to calculate seepage analysis, hydraulic gradient, and uplift pressure (FEM). Results showed that increasing horizontal drain length causes a slight increase in the seepage rate and hydraulic gradient. For limiting seepage and piping/undermining, the best place for a cutoff wall is in the middle of the dam foundation. Seepage from the earth dam and its base is decreased by increasing the cut-off wall depth. Changing the cutoff wall’s placement has little impact on the exit hydraulic gradient, which is always less than unity. When a cutoff wall is installed in the middle of the foundation, the hydraulic gradient is reduced by 20% compared to a cutoff wall installed upstream of the dam.

Author(S) Details

Farzin Salmasi
Department of Water Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Tabriz, Tabriz, Iran.

John Abraham
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota, School of Engineering 2115 Summit Avenue St. Paul, Minnesota 55105, USA.

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