Analyses of the Lower San Fernando Dam Failure

by R. Dungar, Colenco AG, Switzerland,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Waterpower '89


The main methods employed for the back analysis of the behaviour of the Lower San Fernando Dam during the 1971 earthquake are described. The requirements for a comprehensive analysis are proposed and the shortcomings of the current methods are critically evaluated. The main problem area is shown to be the need for realistic material modelling. Selected results taken from a recently conducted full-nonlinear analysis, incorporating a multi-mechanism elasto-plastic soil model, are also presented, and the strengths and current weaknesses associated with this model are discussed. Although in need of additional refinements, the methodology is proposed to be the most advanced and comprehensive of currently available methods.

Subject Headings: Failure analysis | Dam failures | Soil analysis | Soil strength | Embankment dams | Hydraulic models | Soil liquefaction | Earthfill dams

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