Teton Dam Failure

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1977, Vol. 47, Issue 8, Pg. 56-61

Document Type: Feature article


In June 1976, Teton Dam in Idaho failed. It was an earthfill dam 305 ft high. It failed by piping through the impermeable core of the dam. Among factors believed contributing to failure: pipable silt soils used in the impermeable core of the dam; and foundation rock in the right abutment (where failure occurred) so highly fractured that hydraulically the rock was a permeable aquifer. Cause of failure may have been one or more of three factors: erosion of core material leading to an open channel through the keytrench bottom, hydraulic fracture, or differential settlement. This article summarizes findings and conclusions by an independent panel and a federal government panel of dam specialists.

Subject Headings: Dam failures | Earthfill dams | Hydraulic fracturing | Permeability (soil) | Failure analysis | Dam foundations | Rocks | Material failures | Idaho | United States

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