Stresses and Movements in Oroville Dam

by Fred H. Kulhawy, Asst. Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Syracuse Univ., Syracuse, NY,
James M. Duncan, Assoc. Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Univ. of California, Berkeley, CA,

Serial Information: Journal of the Soil Mechanics and Foundations Division, 1972, Vol. 98, Issue 7, Pg. 653-665

Document Type: Journal Paper


Oroville Dam, presently the world's highest embankment dam, was well-instrumented with several types of instrumentation to monitor its construction behavior. The results obtained from the instrumentation clearly indicated that the embankment performed very well with only small amounts of movement. However, the embankment core block did not perform satisfactorily and cracked during construction. The results of a finite element analysis, modeling the construction sequence and the nonlinear, stress-dependent material properties of the embankment soils, are presented and compared with the instrumentation results. The results of this analysis agreed well with the instrumentation results and showed that: (1) the small movements are attributable to the excellent stress-strain characteristics of the embankment soils; (2) significant load transfer occurred from the core to the adjacent coarse zones; and (3) the core block cracking could have been anticipated if these results had been available during the early design stages.

Subject Headings: Instrumentation | Soil analysis | Embankment dams | Finite element method | Stress analysis | Material properties | Dams | Cracking

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