Kariba Left Bank Cofferdam

by Jean J. Martin,

Serial Information: Journal of the Construction Division, 1963, Vol. 89, Issue 1, Pg. 33-54

Document Type: Journal Paper


The left bank cofferdam used in building Kariba Dam was an arch of unconventional design. It was a vertical semi-circular wall 960 ft long and 60 ft high, giving a length-to-height ratio of 16, an unprecedented value. Its behavior, as observed and measured by strain meters, was excellent, despite the fact that it was submerged by a high flood. The structure is set in the context of other, earlier structures with high L/H ratios, and the subject of arch dam computations is broached, in general, with particular reference to the trial load method. The river was subsequently diverted through two wide breaches created by a single blast. This cofferdam affords a precedent that could even be used for permanent structures on future sites, where the valley width has hitherto precluded the idea of an arch dam. The concrete volume accounted for only 12% of the equivalent gravity dam. Regardless of economic considerations, this factor alone made it possible at Kariba to fulfill an exceptionally tight working schedule.

Subject Headings: Arch dams | Gravity dams | Cofferdams | Building design | Concrete dams | Economic factors | Walls | Strain

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