Anchors in the Desert

by Donald A. Bruce, (M.ASCE), Technical Director; Nicholson Construction of America, P.O. Box 308, Bridgeville, PA 15017,
William Fiedler, (M.ASCE), Civil Engineer; Bureau of Reclamation, P.O. Box 25007, Denver, CO 80225,
Ronald Triplett, Vice Pres.; Nicholson Construction, Inc., Atlanta, GA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1991, Vol. 61, Issue 12, Pg. 40-43

Document Type: Feature article


The Southwest desert isn't usually thought of as a hotbed of seismic activity, but earthquakes have occurred there. And if Arizona's Stewart Mountain Dam, a double-curvature thin-arch concrete dam on the Salt River, were to fail in one, it would have catastrophic consequences for Phoenix, just 30 mi downstream. To stabilize the dam to withstand the maximum credible earthquake, the Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec) chose post-tensioning. Many concrete gravity dams have been post-tensioned to improve their stability, but this is the first time anchors have been installed on a multicurvature concrete arch dam. The $6.5 million project also featured several other innovations. These included an extensive anchor test program to verify bond lengths and load transfer mechanisms in each of the three major foundation zones, extremely tight drilling tolerances and frequent downhole surveys, use of epoxy-coated strands to provide primary corrosion protection for the tendons, and meticulous monitoring of the behavior of the potentially delicate structure during every phase of construction.

Subject Headings: Concrete dams | Gravity dams | Arch dams | Anchors | Arid lands | Earthquakes | Dam failures | Rivers and streams | Phoenix | Arizona | United States

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