EARTHQUAKE-INDUCED DISPLACEMENTS OF EARTH DAMS AND EMBANKMENTS

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EARTHQUAKE-INDUCED DISPLACEMENTS OF EARTH DAMS AND EMBANKMENTS

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EMBANKMENTS

Hendra Jitno1 and Richard Davidson2

Group Geotechnical Engineer, Harmony Gold, Brisbane.

2

Senior Principal and Vice President, URS Corporation, Denver, Colorado, USA.

1

ABSTRACT

This paper presents an overview of some of the available methods to estimate earth dam displacements due to

earthquakes, from the simple Newmark one-dimensional displacement method to a complex coupled effective

stress dynamic analysis. It discusses the assumptions used, advantages and limitations of each method. The use

of pseudo-static analysis for assessing seismic stability of earth structures is critically reviewed. An example on

the use of total stress dynamic analysis in the seismic upgrade work of Yarrawonga Weir in Victoria is

presented. The dynamic analyses were very useful in providing an indication of possible flow failure, crack

development during earthquake shaking and the potential for loss of freeboard of the earth dam. The method was

also very useful to assess the most efficient remedial method that satisfies all the imposed requirements from the

community and the client.

INTRODUCTION

Over the last five decades, a number of man-made earth structures have suffered catastrophic failure due to

earthquake-induced liquefaction. Eleven tailings dams failed during and after the 28 March 1965 Chilean

earthquake. The most devastating were the failures of El-Cobre dams which destroyed part of the town of ElCobre and claimed more than 200 lives, Figure 1 (Dobry and Alvarez, 1967). Similar failures also occurred in

Japan in 1978. Two tailings dams associated with the Mochikoshi gold mine failed causing a release of large

volume of tailings materials (Ishihara, 1984).

On 9 February 1971, an earthquake of magnitude 6.6 on the Richter scale hit the San Fernando Valley in

Southern California. One of the major effects of this earthquake was the damage inflicted on the Lower and the

Upper San Fernando Dams due to liquefaction induced deformations (Seed et al., 1973). Liquefaction of the

hydraulic fill materials within the body of the dam caused a flow slide to occur on the upstream part of the

Lower Dam, leaving only about 1.5 m of freeboard (Figure 2). In the Upper Dam, the slide movements resulting

from liquefaction of the hydraulic fill within the dam were not as severe as those in the Lower Dam. However,

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JITNO & DAVIDSON

the crest of the dam moved about 5m downstream and settled about 0.8 m. Fortunately in both cases, no water

was released from the reservoir (Figure 3). Earlier this year an inactive upstream method tailings dam in Chile

failed due to liquefaction demonstrating their vulnerability if saturated loose tailings remain within the exterior

portion of the impoundment, Figure 4 from GEER (2010).

Figure 3.: Upper San Fernando Dam after the 1971 earthquake.

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JITNO & DAVIDSON

Figure 4: Los Palmas March 2010 Tailings Dam Failure, Chile (GEER, 2010)

We are fortunate in Australia and New Zealand to have been spared such an event, but is it only a matter of

time?

There are two major issues that need to be resolved in assessing the seismic performance of earth and tailings

dams under earthquakes:

1.

2.

Deformation: How much deformation will occur in the dam?

The stability of an earth or tailings dam under earthquake loading condition will depend on the dam geometry,

level of earthquake shaking and the materials comprising the dam and foundation. The dam geometry will

control the level of driving stresses acting on the dam during and after earthquakes, the level of earthquake

shaking will control how much deformation or strains will be developed during the shaking, and the material

type will govern whether or not the embankment will experience liquefaction or significant strength loss due to

earthquake.

If the embankment and foundation materials are not susceptible to liquefaction or strength reduction due to

earthquake shaking, then the dam will generally be stable and catastrophic failure is not expected (Seed, 1979).

However, if the dam or/and foundation comprise liquefiable materials, it may experience flow failure depending

on post-earthquake factor of safety against instability (FOSpe).

For high initial driving stress (steep geometry), the FOSpe will likely be much less than unity, and flow failure

may occur, as depicted by strain path A-B-C in Figure 5. Path A-B is the deformations during earthquake and

path B-C indicates deformations after the cessation of earthquake. Note that the higher the difference between

the initial driving stress and the residual strength, the larger the deformations. An example of this is the failure

of the Lower San Fernando Dam.

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JITNO & DAVIDSON

Shear Stress,

High initial driving stress

C

P

Deformations during EQ

Residual Strength, Sr

Shear Strain,

Figure 5.: Effects of initial driving stress on post-liquefaction stability and deformations.

However, for low initial driving stress, the FOSpe may still be larger than one and the dam will remain stable. It

is also possible that the FOSpe is slightly less than unity but the dam is still stable after new equilibrium is

achieved when the driving stress reduces to a value similar to the soil residual strength (Sr), as depicted by strain

path P-Q-R. Since the initial driving stress here is smaller and almost the same as the residual strength, the

additional deformation after the cessation of the earthquake (path Q-R) is relatively small.

For dams comprising liquefiable materials that do not fail under seismic shaking, the next question would be:

would the earth dams undergo significant deformations that may jeopardize the structures integrity? Potential

safety hazards after the earthquake include overtopping due to loss of freeboard and internal erosion (piping) due

to cracks within the dam.

In addition to the deformations due to the shaking and loss of soil stiffness and strength, dams especially tailings

dams may also experience significant settlement after all earthquake-induced pore pressures dissipate. The

magnitude of settlement depends on the thickness and compressibility of vulnerable layers and shear strains

developed during the shaking.

One of the earliest available methods to assess seismic stability of earth structures is pseudo-static analysis. Due

mainly to its simplicity, it is still being used in the engineering community, in particular for cases which do not

involve liquefaction or strength reduction due to earthquake shaking.

The method uses a limit equilibrium approach incorporating a horizontal seismic coefficient to simulate inertia

forces due to the earthquake. The seismic coefficient is expressed as the ratio between the earthquake forces and

the gravity acceleration. Similar to the concept of static failure, a factor of safety (FOS) of less than unity is

considered unstable and FOS of greater than unity represents seismically stable slopes.

Despite its popularity, this method suffers from serious limitations as follows:

68

It inherently assumes that the earthquake loading acting on the potentially unstable slope mass is

permanent and in one direction only. In reality, earthquake loading is multi-direction and cyclic which

involves stress reversal. Therefore, the calculated FOS of less than unity does not necessarily mean

failure. It may only be an indication of limited slope movement, with magnitude depending on the soil

strength and earthquake intensity as will be discussed in the next section. Similarly, for cases involving

strength reduction due to shaking, a FOS of greater than unity does not always mean the slope is stable

because it may fail in post-earthquake undrained loading.

Neither peak drained nor undrained strengths are suitable in pseudo static analyses for slopes comprised

of materials that may undergo earthquake-induced strength loss.

Difficulties in selecting an appropriate seismic coefficient. The use of a seismic coefficient that equals

the Peak Ground Acceleration (PGA) is an overly conservative assumption. This assumption implies

that the slope is a perfectly rigid body, which will move together as one block. This is clearly not true as

the slope mass is generally deformable and tends to attenuate the earthquake shaking depending on the

ratio between its natural period and the predominant period of the earthquake.

The method only considers earthquake acceleration but fails to consider earthquake duration and

frequency. Thus, the method will give the same results for a given acceleration, regardless of the

Australian Geomechanics Vol 45 No 3 Septrmber 2010

JITNO & DAVIDSON

magnitude and distance of the earthquake. This is misleading as the bigger earthquakes will have longer

duration and therefore will be more devastating than small earthquakes. Also, far distant earthquakes

will have lower frequencies and may cause ground amplification if the frequency is close to the slope

natural period.

Because of its limitations, this method is only used as a screening tool to assess if further analysis is required, as

recommended in ANCOLD Guidelines (1998). ANCOLD recommend the use of pseudo-static analysis method

developed by US Army Corps of Engineers (Hynes-Griffin and Franklin, 1984) as a screening method for well

constructed earth and rockfill dams, which are not susceptible to liquefaction or significant strength loss due to

earthquakes. This method has been calibrated against a large number of deformation analyses with deformations

of up to 1 m.

Procedures to use this method are as follows:

1.

2.

3.

4.

Use undrained strength for cohesive soils and drained strength for free-draining materials;

Apply 20% strength reduction for both cohesive and free-draining soils (Note that the free draining

materials must not be liquefiable because otherwise this method is not applicable);

Apply seismic coefficient equal to 50% of the PGA.

Slopes with calculated FOS greater than unity are considered stable. However, more detailed analyses including

deformation analysis are required for slopes with computed FOS less than one.

There are some other screening methods available, but the methods were specifically developed for landfills

(Bray et al., 1998) and residential development (Stewart et al., 2003) with smaller tolerable seismic

displacements (15 cm to 30 cm).

Because the pseudo static method does not correctly simulate the actual slope behaviour in an earthquake, the

authors do not advocate its use except as an intermediate step in a simplified Newmark-type deformation

analysis. Far superior screening can be accomplished using post earthquake undrained stability analyses

discussed below.

The most useful method available to assess the risk of earthquake-induced instability is post earthquake

undrained stability analyses. This approach does correctly simulate the process of slope instability observed in

many earthquake case histories. It recognises that fact that slopes generally fail at the end of or after earthquake

shaking has ceased as excess pore pressures induced during shaking redistribute within liquefied soil mass and

the residual strength is mobilised. The first step is to assess the level of earthquake ground motions at the site.

Either using simplified methods or attenuating the ground motions through the embankment section, the degree

of strength reduction is evaluated ranging from relatively small strength loss in materials that behave in a claylike manner to liquefaction in contractive sand-like material. Very useful methods of liquefaction evaluation

have been summarized by Idriss and Boulanger (2008). From these methods the post earthquake undrained shear

strength can be interpreted Supe as a total stress value or a strength ratio Su/v , and can be as low as the

residual strength Sr.

With the appropriate post earthquake strength selection, then undrained strength analysis static limit equilibrium

slope stability calculations can be completed for the appropriate pre-shaking effective stress conditions. Factors

of safety less than 1.0 would be indicative of failure conditions and depending on the size of the earthquake and

zone of liquefaction could result in uncontrolled flow failure. The next question is what the quantum of

seismically-induced deformations is.

DEFORMATIONS OF EARTH DAMS

Various methods for predicting seismic deformation of earth structures have been developed. These methods

include the simplified one-dimensional Newmarks method and its modified versions by Sarma (1975) and

Makdisi-Seed (1978), the simplified two dimensional finite element (FE) stiffness reduction method proposed by

Lee (1974), the more involved Seeds strain potential approach (Seed et al., 1973, Seed, 1979), FE stiffness

reduction method incorporating inertia effects (Byrne, 1991; Jitno, 1995) and the sophisticated total and effective

stress dynamic analysis methods (e.g.. Finn et al., 1977, 1986; Byrne et al., 2004).

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JITNO & DAVIDSON

5.1

ONE DIMENSIONAL SIMPLIFIED METHOD

The stability of earth structures has been traditionally assessed based on the factor of safety of a potential sliding

mass using a pseudo-static limit equilibrium analysis. The term factor of safety is defined as the ratio of shear

strength of soil to the driving shear stress acting at the points on the potential sliding surface. A factor of safety

less than unity implies that the soil-structures are not stable since the sliding mass will accelerate and large

displacement will occur. However, under seismic shaking where the loads act only for a finite duration of time

and cyclic in nature, a factor of safety less than unity may still be acceptable. Newmark (1965) was the first to

advance a concept that the stability of an embankment during earthquake should be assessed on the basis of the

deformation produced instead of the traditional pseudo-static factor of safety.

5.1.1 Newmarks method

Newmark proposed a simple method for evaluating the potential deformation of earth-structures due to

earthquake shaking. He modelled a potential sliding block of the dam as a rigid plastic single degree of freedom

system which can be viewed as a rigid mass resting on an inclined plane and subjected to earthquake ground

acceleration (a), as shown in Figure 6.

Newmark assumed that the soil behaves in a rigid-perfectly-plastic manner in which the movement will only

occur when the driving forces due to earthquake base acceleration are sufficient to overcome the yield resistance

of the block. As shown in Figure 6, the block will only move if the acceleration is higher than the ay (yield

acceleration).

Several models have been proposed based on the concept that Newmark (1965) developed for calculating the

deformation of earth dams during earthquakes.

Yegian et al. (1991) proposed that the amplitude D of permanent displacement is:

(Equation 1)

where Neq is the number of cycles equivalent uniform base motion, T the period (s), ay the yield acceleration, ap

the peak acceleration (g), and f the dimensionless function depending on base motion.

Baziar et al. (1992) proposed that D depends on peak velocity:

(Equation 2)

where amax is the peak acceleration, and vmax the peak velocity.

Jibson (1993) proposed that D (cm) depends on the Aria intensity:

Log D = 1.46 log Ia - 6.642 ay + 1.546

70

(Equation 3)

JITNO & DAVIDSON

where Ia the Aria intensity (m/s), and ay the yield acceleration (g). Plot between Ia and displacement computed

using Jibson method is presented in Figure 7. Arias intensity is a single numerical measure of the shaking

intensity of the record calculated by integrating the squared acceleration values (Arias, 1970) as shown below:

(Equation 4)

This method is not necessarily founded on a theoretical basis given that the deformation of a slope is only a

result of acceleration values that exceed the critical acceleration value.

The models based on Newmark sliding blocks assume that the deformation takes place on a well defined failure

surface, the yield acceleration remains constant during shaking, and the soil is perfectly plastic. However, these

assumptions do not hold in the case of liquefied soils and lateral spreads, because of the following:

Shear strain in liquefied soil does not concentrate within a well defined surface;

Shear strength (and yield acceleration) of saturated soils varies during cyclic loading as pore pressure

varies and

Soils are generally not perfectly plastic materials, but commonly harden or soften.

Therefore, while this method is very useful for predicting seismic displacement of earth structures, it generally

does not give satisfactory results for predicting liquefaction-induced ground deformations.

5.1.2 Makdisi-Seed Method

One of the assumptions used in Newmarks analysis is that the ground acceleration is constant along the sliding

block. This may not necessarily true for earth slopes which may deform during the shaking. To account for the

variability of ground accelerations along the potential sliding block, Makdisi and Seed (1978) refined the

Newmarks method by using average accelerations applied to the slopes. Makdisi and Seed then computed the

variation of permanent displacement with ratio of yield acceleration (ay) and peak ground acceleration (amax) and

earthquake magnitude (M), by subjecting several real and hypothetical dams to several recorded and synthetic

earthquake ground motions for given magnitudes.

The permanent displacements computed by Makdisi-Seed method for different ay/amax ratio and earthquake

magnitudes are presented in Figure 8.

The procedure to estimate the seismic deformations using Makdisi-Seed method are as follows:

1.

2.

Determine the design peak ground acceleration of the dam (max). This can be obtained from deterministic or

probabilistic seismic hazard analysis, or any other sources.

Determine the natural period of the dam. The first natural period of the dam with constant modulus can be

computed using To=2.61*h/vs. (vs.= shear wave velocity of dam material, h = dam height).

Australian Geomechanics Vol 45 No 3 September 2010

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JITNO & DAVIDSON

3.

4.

5.

6.

Determine the yield acceleration of the dam by carrying out pseudo-static analysis with different

accelerations. Yield acceleration is the acceleration that gives a factor of safety of unity.

Determine the height of potential sliding mass (y) from above step and calculate y/h ratio, where h is the

maximum dam height.

Using Figure 8a, determine the average maximum acceleration, kmax.

Compute ky/kmax and using Figure 8b, determine the normalised displacements (g = gravity acceleration).

Knowing g and To, the displacement can then be computed.

(b)

(a)

Figure 8: (a).Variation of average maximum acceleration with depth of potential failure surface and (b)

Normalised permanent displacement with yield acceleration for earthquakes with different magnitudes (right)

(Makdisi and Seed, 1978). Note: U = displacement; To = natural period of embankment.

5.1.3 Empirical methods

Swaisgood (2003) has carried out an extensive study of case histories of embankment dam behaviour during

earthquakes, particularly those which are not susceptible to liquefaction problems. The objectives of the study

were to determine if there is a normal trend of seismic deformation that can be predicted and if there are

certain factors that consistently have an effect on the amount of damage and deformation incurred during

earthquakes. Nearly 70 case histories have been reviewed, compared and statistically analysed in this effort. The

results of this empirical study have shown that the most important factors that appear to affect dam crest

settlement during earthquake include (a) the peak ground acceleration at the site and (b) the earthquake

magnitude. The relationship between the magnitude of measured settlement and the peak ground accelerations

during earthquake were plotted and presented in Figure 9.

This finding supports one of the findings of an earlier investigation in which it was concluded that there is

ample evidence that well-built dams can withstand moderate shaking with peak accelerations up to at least 0.2 g

with no harmful effects (Seed, 1979).

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JITNO & DAVIDSON

Figure 9. Empirical relationship between the peak ground acceleration and crest settlement (Swaisgood, 2003).

In addition, an empirical equation was formulated as an aid in estimating the amount of dam crest settlement as

follows:

S (%) = e (6.07 PGA + 0.57 M -8.00)

Equation 5

In which, s = crest settlement in percent; PGA = Peak Ground Acceleration at the foundation rock and M =

earthquake magnitude.

Pells and Fell (2002) also collected data from 305 dams in which 95 of them suffered cracks due to earthquake

shaking. They plot the data as a function of peak ground acceleration and earthquake magnitude, and classified

the damage based on the crack width and crest settlement. More detailed discussion of this method can be found

in Fell et al. (2005).

5.2

TWO-DIMENSIONAL SIMPLIFIED METHOD

The two-dimensional simplified method generally uses the finite element or finite difference method to calculate

deformations due to earthquakes. However, the seismic loadings are not directly used as part of the input. Below

are some of the methods available.

5.2.1

Strain Potential Method

One of the earliest two-dimensional FE methods was developed by Seed et al. (1973) by combining the results

of linear or equivalent linear analysis and the laboratory data. The procedure can generally be described as

follows:

1.

2.

3.

Compute the cyclic shear stresses in each element of the dam using linear or equivalent linear analysis.

Assign each soil element in the dam a strain potential in terms of shear strain, as a function of cyclic shear

stresses obtained from the above step in combination with the results of cyclic laboratory tests.

Compute dam deformations based on the prescribed shear strain for each soil element.

One of the major assumptions used here is that the shear strain developed during earthquake will be similar to

the strain developed from triaxial laboratory tests, and the maximum shear stress acts in horizontal direction in

all elements. This assumption is only valid for a small portion of the dam, whereas the majority of the soil

elements within the dam experience stress conditions similar to those developed in simple shear tests. Therefore,

the results of deformation analysis using this method are very approximate and tend to underestimate the

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JITNO & DAVIDSON

observed deformations in the field. In addition, this simplified method is not simple or practical. It is quite time

consuming and expensive due to relatively large number of laboratory cyclic tests required.

5.2.2 Stiffness Reduction Method

Another method developed by Seed and his co-workers is stiffness reduction approach (Lee, 1974 and Serff et

al., 1976). In this method, the soil is assumed to lose part of its stiffness in the earthquake. The method can be

described as follows:

1.

2.

Compute the initial static shear stresses in the dam using initial soil moduli (before earthquake). Set the

displacement to zero.

Using the pre-earthquake static shear stresses, compute the deformations of the dam due to earthquake by

using the reduced soil stiffness.

This method is also very approximate but it is not as time consuming as the strain potential method. This method

does not consider any inertia effects due to earthquake shaking and can only be used to estimate the dam

deformations due to strong earthquake with short duration. This method can be applied using commercial finite

element/differnce software such as SIGMA/w, PLAXIS or FLAC.

5.2.3 Pseudo-dynamic Method

Based on the work of Byrne (1991), Jitno (1995) developed a method that combines the effects of stiffness

reduction and the inertia forces due to earthquake shaking. This method is essentially an extension of Newmark's

method from a rigid-plastic single-degree-of-freedom system to a flexible multi-degree of- freedom system. In

addition to the softening of the liquefied soil, it takes into account the effects of inertia forces from the

earthquake and the post-liquefaction settlement. The method is based on the concept that the deformation prior

to liquefaction is small and can be neglected compared to those which occur after liquefaction. A key aspect of

the method is the post-liquefaction stress-strain response for which there is now considerable laboratory data

available.

The proposed method employs a pseudo-dynamic finite element method in which the additional displacements

due to liquefaction and inertia forces are accounted for by applying additional forces that satisfy energy

principles. The procedure has been validated by applying it to field case histories involving both onedimensional sloping ground as well as two-dimensional cases. These case histories include the Wildlife and the

Heber Road sites, the Lower and Upper San Fernando dams (Seed et al., 1973), the Mochikoshi tailings dams

(Ishihara, 1984), the La Marquesa and La Palma dams in Chile (De Alba et al., 1988). It was found that the

predicted and observed results in those case histories are in reasonable agreement in terms of both the magnitude

and pattern of displacements.

The method has been working quite well for liquefaction cases due to medium earthquakes but it might

underestimate deformations for liquefaction cases due to bigger earthquakes (magnitude>M8).

5.2.4 Dynamic Runout Method (DRUM)

Tan et al. (2000) developed the Dynamic Runout Method (DRUM) to estimate the run-out distance of an

unstable sliding mass that moves due to its inertia, which normally occurs on cases with drastic strength

reduction (e.g. liquefaction). The DRUM program analyses a series of sliding rigid-body masses, gradually

changing from an initial embankment configuration to a final stable configuration. The driving force acting on

the sliding block is the down slope component of its weight, and the resisting force is the shear strength

resistance along the postulated shear surface.

Using Newtons equation of motion, the unbalanced forces in the initial configuration are used to calculate an

initial acceleration of the initial rigid-body sliding mass. The analysis is then continued in small increments of

time in which the acceleration, velocity, and displacement of the rigid-body sliding mass are computed based on

the available unbalanced forces. At each time increment, the volume/area of the sliding mass is kept the same

(undrained), but the shape is changed to regularize the sliding mass. In the early time increments, when the static

factor of safety is less than 1.0, the acceleration of the mass is positive, which produces increasing velocity and

displacement. As the rigid body is displaced and the resulting equivalent slope flattens, the factor of safety

increases. Eventually the factor of safety exceeds 1.0, after which the acceleration of the mass is negative. The

negative accelerations reduce the velocity of the mass in succeeding time increments, until the velocity is

reduced to zero, at which time movement of the mass stops and the configuration is stable. The method has been

calibrated against two liquefaction case histories the Lower San Fernando (Seed et al., 1973) and La Marquesa

Dam (De Alba et al., 1988), and provided reasonable calculated run-out distance when compared to the observed

distances.

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JITNO & DAVIDSON

The DRUM program is applicable only to cases with static factors of safety less than 1.0 and can be used to

estimate only the deformations resulting from the unbalanced static forces. The DRUM program does not

provide an estimate of deformations from the earthquake shaking itself. Consequently, the DRUM program

underestimates the total deformations from earthquake loading. However, because the displacements prior to

liquefaction are generally small, we believe the method can give reasonable estimates on the run-out distance of

earth dams failed due to liquefaction.

5.3

TOTAL STRESS FULLY DYNAMIC ANALYSIS

The method utilises the time history of acceleration as direct input to the analysis. The dynamic analysis is

carried out either in the time domain, or in the frequency domain using an equivalent non-linear method. The

method does not directly analyse the zone of liquefaction for cases involving liquefiable soils as it does not

calculate the pore pressure development during earthquake. The liquefaction zone must be determined separately

either using a simplified approach (Youd et al, 2001) or by carrying out site response analysis such as SHAKE

(Idriss and Sun, 1992), QUAD4 or FLUSH (Lysmer et al., 1975). The procedure can be briefly described as

follows:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

Determine the time history of acceleration for a given design earthquake. Selection of the time history of

acceleration depends on the Peak Ground Acceleration (PGA), distance from the earthquake source,

earthquake magnitude and geological condition at the site.

Determine zone of liquefaction within the dam and foundation and estimate the time required (number of

cycles) to cause liquefaction (tliq).

Carry out stress deformation analysis using non-liquefied soil properties for t less than tliq, and use the postliquefaction soil properties for t tliq.

Estimate the settlement due to pore pressure dissipation using the method proposed by Tokimatsu and Seed

(1987) or Ishihara & Yoshimine (1992).

Add the settlement computed from step (4) to the dam deformations computed by steps (1) to (3).

It is usually very time consuming to carry out analysis in the time domain for any finite element programs, as

each digitised earthquake load will be treated as a separate static load and the program must process the matrix

of equations for the entire mesh. Because of this, the commercial finite element programs usually adopt

frequency domain solution to analyse earthquake loads. Examples of the programs that use this method are

PLAXIS and QUAKE/w. For finite difference programs, however, this is not a problem. Both time domain and

frequency domain solutions can be processed relatively fast (e.g. FLAC).

The results of deformation analysis are quite sensitive to the results of liquefaction analysis, which is done

separately using a simplified approach. The results are also sensitive to the estimate of time required to cause

liquefaction. Therefore, although the method and the software are readily available in the marketplace,

judgement must be exercised during the analysis and understanding the soil behaviour under dynamic loading is

required to obtain meaningful results.

5.4

EFFECTIVE STRESS FULLY DYNAMIC ANALYSIS

The effective stress analysis is the most comprehensive approach for estimating dam deformations due to

earthquake loading. The effective stress approach computes pore pressure development during the earthquake

shaking. The method takes into account the strength and stiffness reduction due to pore pressure increase during

the shaking and it is also able to incorporate the residual strength after liquefaction. Post-liquefaction settlement

can be calculated by analysing the pore pressure dissipation after the cessation of earthquake.

There are basically two approaches available:

1.

2.

Uncoupled effective stress approach. The pore pressure response due to earthquake is estimated from an

empirical formula based on the calculated shear-strains during earthquake shaking (Martin, Finn and

Seed, 1975, Byrne, 1991) or from post cyclic laboratory testing. This method has been implemented in

the most recent version of the dynamic FLAC software (Itasca, 2008) and has been used more

extensively in practice.

Coupled effective stress approach. This method utilises the more rigorous approach based on an elastic

plastic stress strain law for the sand skeleton that includes shear- induced plastic volumetric strains. It is

these strains under the constraint of the pore fluid stiffness that generate pore water pressure changes.

Such an approach allows coupled dynamic stress-flow analyses to be carried out in which both

generation and dissipation of pore water pressures and their effects are considered for a specific base

motion.

Fully coupled effective stress approaches have been developed by many researchers including Dafalias (1986),

Prevost (1981, 1989), Zienkiewicz et al. (1990), Byrne et al. (1995), Beaty and Byrne (1999), Elgamal et al.

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JITNO & DAVIDSON

(1999), and Kramer and Arduino (1999), and Byrne et al. (2004). At the moment, due to various reasons,

analyses of this level of complexity are relatively rare in practice. An example of the application of this approach

in practice is presented by Jitno (2011) utilising the UBCSAND model developed by Byrne et al. (2004).

The final step in the analysis is to decide if the calculated displacement is tolerable. Ideally, allowable

displacements for analyses should be established from a database in which observed slope displacements from

earthquakes are correlated to damage and loss of integrity in structures associated with the slope displacements.

Unfortunately, however, such data is quite limited or was destroyed when the structure failed, and hence there is

limited empirical data from which to serve as a rational basis for selecting allowable displacements.

Accordingly, allowable displacement levels are established from engineering judgment. Some of the parameters

to be considered are as follows:

Maintaining freeboard - The freeboard will control how much settlement is allowable without

overtopping after the earthquake.

Filter thickness - This will govern how much lateral deformation is allowed before the filter protection

is disrupted by cracking leading to potential piping problems through the embankment.

Thickness of core - In old dams, a relatively narrow puddle clay core may extend into the foundation,

where the liquefiable layers are found. If the dam core is sheared during earthquake, the risk of piping

though dam foundation will increase.

Stability assessment if the deformation analysis comes to equilibrium with movement stabilising after

shaking has ceased, then the model indicates an uncontrolled flow failure has not occurred. On the other

hand, if the model continues to deform after shaking or can not converge during shaking, flow failure is

indicated. As a rule of thumb with FLAC, if the maximum lateral displacement remains below about 3

m to 4 m and is stable, then flow failure would not be expected.

IN AUSTRALIA

The methods discussed above have been applied to assess the seismic stability of a number of dams in Australia

and New Zealand. The following case history is presented to give an example on the use of available seismic

stability assessment methods. Over the last 10 years, URS Australia has applied the total and effective stress

dynamic analyses for assessing seismic deformations of several dams, whose foundations are prone to potential

liquefaction concerns (eg. Yarrawonga Weir, Waranga Basin, Lance Creek and Hindmarsh Valley). In this

paper, one case history from Victoria (Davidson et al., 2003) will be presented.

7.1

DAM GEOMETRY

Yarrawonga Weir is located approximately 240 km north of Melbourne, on the River Murray near Yarrawonga

at the Victoria/New South Wales border. The weir was constructed in the 1930's and consists of a southern

(main) embankment, a northern embankment and concrete regulating structures at the north and south of the

facility. The southern (main) embankment is a zoned earthfill structure approximately 7 m high and extends for a

length of about 275 m. The embankment has a centrally located steel sheet pile cutoff wall that extends from RL

123.1 m to bedrock and is encased in a clay core which extends from just below the crest to the base of the

embankment. The remainder of the embankment generally comprises a low plasticity silty clay fill material that

has been placed with side slopes of 4H:1V. The embankments are founded on alluvial soils comprised of clean

sands and clayey / sandy silt overlying stiff clays and then siltstone / sandstone bedrock.

7.2

SEISMIC HAZARD ASSESSMENT

The site specific seismic hazard assessment comprised several tasks, including data review and collection, fault

mapping and trenching, earthquake source characterisation, ground motion attenuation, probabilistic seismic

hazard analysis (PSHA) and ground motion assessment. A probabilistic seismic hazard analysis (PSHA) was

performed for Yarrawonga Weir, using the refined source characterisation and the recently developed ground

motion attenuation relations proposed by Sadigh et al. (1997), Idriss (1994) and Toro et al. (1997). The resultant

average seismic hazard curve (Figure 10) illustrates the increase in ground motion level with increasing

earthquake recurrence interval.

76

JITNO & DAVIDSON

10

0.1

0.01

0.001

1

10

100

1000

10000

100000

Based on the ANCOLD (1998) and the New South Wales Dams Safety Committee guidelines, the appropriate

design seismic loading depends on the downstream population at risk and the expected level of damage should

the dam fail. After conducting a dam-break analysis that considered the likely consequences of each mode of

failure, the Maximum Design Earthquake (MDE) for the ogee crest was assigned the 1:1000 AEP while the

remainder of the structures and embankment were assigned a 1:5000 AEP.

De-aggregation analysis was used to identify the earthquake magnitude and distance combination most likely to

contribute to a given level of acceleration at each site. The results indicated that the largest contribution to the

seismic hazard (measured by the 2.5 Hz spectral acceleration) comes from the earthquakes located on average at

least 53 km from the site for Operating Basis Earthquake (OBE) events (Mw 6.2), and at least 25 km for MDE

events (Mw 6.4).

Table 1. Site Specific Seismic Hazard Study Results for Yarrawonga Weir embankment

Earthquake

OBE

MDE

AEP

1:475

1:5,000

Magnitude, Mw

Distance (km)

Peak Ground Acceleration (g)

6.2

53

0.07

6.4

25

0.28

On the basis of the earthquake distance, magnitude and the shear wave velocity of the top 30 m of the soil/rock

layer (vs30), time history of ground motions were selected from the Griffith Park record of the 1971 San

Fernando earthquake and scaled to match the response spectra for Yarrawonga Weir, for both OBE and MDE.

These ground motion parameters were used as the design basis for seismic analysis of Yarrawonga Weir

embankment.

7.3

LIQUEFACTION ASSESSMENT

Geotechnical investigations including numerous sampled drill holes, test pits and CPT soundings revealed two

layers of recent alluvial, fine to medium sand (SP), identified as 2A and 2C with corrected SPT blow counts N =

2 to 13, within the foundation. Results of liquefaction assessment based on Seed method outlined in ANCOLD

guidelines (1998) indicate that these layers were susceptible to liquefaction, even under OBE earthquake loading

conditions. Figure 11 illustrates the typical embankment section showing geotechnical profile beneath the

embankment.

77

JITNO & DAVIDSON

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

110

120

130

140

150

150

145

Elevation (m)

140

135

130

1B

125

120

140

135

130

125

1A

120

2A

2A

2B

115

145

2A : ALLUVIAL SAND, LOOSE

2B : ALLUVIAL CLAY SANDY SILT

2C : ALLUVIAL SAND

2D : SHEPARTON FORMATION CLAY

115

2C

110

110

2D

105

BEDROCK

105

100

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

110

120

130

100

140

Distance (m)

Interbedded clayey silt and sandy silt (layer 2B) was found between the two clean sand layers 2A and 2C. This

layer contained some relatively soft and loose zones which would experience strength loss on shaking. These

alluvial layers are underlain by Shepparton formation clays (layer 2D), which were generally of medium to high

plasticity clay (CH) of a stiff to hard consistency. The siltstone/sandstone bedrock was found under this layer.

The embankment fill (layer 1A and 1B) was typically comprised of low plasticity clay, although a thin layer of

loose sand was encountered upstream at several locations.

The analysis indicated that layer 2A (loose sand) located at the downstream and upstream embankment is

liquefiable under both OBE and MDE. The Factors of Safety against liquefaction (FOSL) for each layer under

MDE are presented in Table 2.

7.4

SEISMIC STABILITY ASSESSMENT

The OBE and MDE earthquake loadings were used to assess the post earthquake performance of the

embankment by using limit equilibrium analysis. The stability analysis was performed on sections RD 300, RD

345 and RD 405. Section RD 345 was identified in earlier work as the overall critical foundation section for the

embankment. The phreatic surface adopted was obtained from seepage analysis with the downstream water table

set to approximately two metres below ground level (119 m AHD). The post-earthquake soil strengths were

determined based on the results of liquefaction assessment. For liquefiable sand layers (FOS against liquefaction,

FOSL 1.0), the post-earthquake undrained strength was assigned an undrained strength ratio (Su/vo)

according to the chart proposed by Stark and Mesri (1992). For sand layers with FOSL >1.0, the undrained

strength ratio was estimated based on the pore pressure development due to shaking, using the chart proposed by

Seed and Harder (1990). The non liquefiable sand layers were assigned undrained strength ratio equal to the

tangent of their drained friction angle (Su/vo=tan ). Summary of the post-earthquake soil strength properties

used in the analysis are presented in Table 2, and the results of post earthquake stability and seismic deformation

analyses are shown in Figure 12 and Figure 13.

Table 2. Post-earthquake Soil Strength Parameters used in the analysis under MDE loading.

Soil Type

2A-dry-D/S

2A-sat-loose-D/S

2A-sat-loose-U/S

2A-sat-MD-U/S

2B-D/S

2B-U/S

2C

78

FOS against

liquefaction, FOSL

Dry (NL)

0.47

0.41

1.15

0.95

1.21

2.90 (NL)

(N1)60-cs

Su/ vo

24

6

10

22

15

21

29

0.70

0.04

0.05

0.34

0.08

0.32

0.70

JITNO & DAVIDSON

150

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

110

120

130

145

145

140

Elevation (m)

140

150

140

FOS = 0.733

135

135

130

130

125

125

120

120

115

115

110

110

105

105

100

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

110

120

130

100

140

Distance (m)

Figure 12: Results of post earthquake stability analysis of embankment under MDE loading.

Pre-remedial work geometry.

For pre-remedial works geometry, the post MDE stability and deformation of the embankments was

unacceptable and catastrophic failure of the embankments and loss of the reservoir was predicted. The

computed post earthquake undrained stability factor of safety was significantly less than unity (FOS=0.7),

indicating that the residual strength is much less than the driving stress and excessive deformation was predicted

in the model.

Figure 13. Results of FLAC total stress dynamic deformation analysis under MDE loading. Pre-remedial work

geometry. Displacement pattern and magnitude of deformations.

As can be seen in Figure 13, the upstream crest moved about 3.4 m and the downstream crest only moved about

3.0 m, suggesting tension cracks would have developed at the dam crest. The crest also settled about 1.3 m at the

downstream and only 0.8 m at the upstream. The large deformations experienced by the dam reduced the driving

stress to some degree but the residual strength was still lower than the driving stress, causing the dam to keep

deforming. The time deformation plot shown in Figure 14 demonstrates that the deformations do not stabilise

with time after the cessation of earthquake indicating a potential for an uncontrolled breach and release of the

storage.

79

Input Acceleration - g

JITNO & DAVIDSON

0.3

-0.3

0

10

20

Time - sec

30

40

50

4000

3500

Horisoantal Displacement - mm

3000

2500

2000

1500

Figure 14: Plot of horizontal deformation vs. time obtained from the results of FLAC total stress dynamic

1000

deformation analysis. Pre-remedial work geometry.

7.5

EMBANKMENT REMEDIAL WORKS DESIGN

The primary criterion for the

design of remedial works for the embankment was to increase stability under

500

earthquake loading conditions. The selection of a FOS was dependent upon the level of uncertainty with regard

Pointembankment

B

to embankment and foundation design parameters, as well as uncertainty about

performance. Under

OBE loading, the embankment must be able to sustain shaking without loss

of

serviceability,

and under MDE

Point C

loading, the embankment should0withstand shaking without uncontrolled loss of storage.

Point D

Since no filters were present in the original embankment, two stage filters were incorporated in the design of the

downstream stabilising berm. The filters were designed to be compatible with the clay core and the embankment

fill to prevent piping of the -500

embankment materials and crack migration, particularly where seismically-induced

tension cracks of the core or embankment

fill is expected

to be most20

severe.

0

10

30

40

There were several key constraints on the embankment construction:

80

Time - sec

The storage had to remain in operation at full supply level for most of the construction period, with a

draw down of the storage only possible in the 2002 winter period towards the end of the first year of

construction. The available duration of the draw down was limited to about ten weeks.

For dam safety reasons the downstream embankment construction had to be completed before the

upstream works could be constructed.

The construction could not adversely affect the riverine environment and construction methods had to

meet planning guidelines and community expectations, as the construction site was located within a

sizeable rural centre.

50

JITNO & DAVIDSON

The following remedial works were implemented to upgrade the embankments to satisfy the above design

criteria:

Construction of a downstream stabilising berm and an upstream rock blanket;

Installation of a filter layer into the new downstream stabilising berm and within the embankment

transition zones adjacent to the regulating structures, to reduce the risk of post-earthquake piping of

embankment materials and

Addition of erosion protection blocks on the upstream and downstream face of the embankment.

Because of the requirement that full supply level must be maintained during remedial works, an innovative

foundation improvement program at the upstream of the dam was adopted as shown in Figure 15.

Several options were considered for the foundation improvement included (1) excavation and replacement of the

liquefiable foundation materials, (2) construction of stone columns, (3) jet grouting and (4) both deep and

shallow soil mixing of the foundation materials. Stone columns were finally selected because of their ability to

increase the density of the loose foundation soils, to drain excess pore pressures during earthquake shaking, and

to add composite strength and stiffness from the compacted gravel. There also were several successful

precedents in Australia and overseas (Davidson and Perez, 1984; Hayden and Welch, 1991).

A series of geotechnical analyses was carried out to confirm satisfactory performance of the upgraded

embankment against seepage, stability, static and seismic deformation criteria. Stability analyses provided a

post earthquake stability factor of safety in excess of the required 1.3 (Figure 16) and maximum seismic lateral

deformation of less than 200 mm (Figure 17) except for some localised deformations (slumping) at the

downstream toe of the stabilising berm.

150

20

30

40

50

60

140

150

145

145

Elevation (m)

140

70

80

90

100

110

120

130

140

FOS =1.333

135

135

130

130

125

125

120

120

115

115

110

110

105

105

100

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100

110

Distance (m)

120

130

100

140

Figure 16: Results of post earthquake stability analysis of embankment under MDE loading.

Upgraded embankment.

81

JITNO & DAVIDSON

Figure 17: Results of FLAC total stress dynamic deformation analysis under MDE loading. Upgraded

embankment. Displacement pattern and magnitude of deformations.

The proposed remedial work was implemented and constructed successfully, within budget and time. Details of

the soil improvement process and the other aspects of the seismic upgrade at Yarrawonga Weir are provided in

the paper by Davidson et al. (2003).

SUMMARY

Several methods to estimate seismic deformations of earth dams have been presented. The available methods

range from the simple one-dimensional Newmark or Makdisi-Seed analysis to complex two-dimensional

effective stress dynamic analysis, which considers the development of pore water pressures with earthquake

shaking. Each of the methods has been briefly discussed and limitations of the method have been highlighted.

The practice of earthquake engineering is evolving and is not without significant controversy at present.

However, the methods discussed in this paper can provide the design engineer and dam owner with some

confidence in tackling this most difficult geotechnical engineering challenge.

An example has been provided where a process including liquefaction assessment, post earthquake stability

analysis and total stress dynamic analysis has been successfully applied in a significant dam safety seismic

upgrade project in Victoria. The dynamic analyses were very useful in providing an indication of possible flow

failure, crack development during the shaking and the potential for loss of freeboard in a critical irrigation

control structure on the River Murray. The method was also very useful to assess the most efficient remedial

method that satisfies all the imposed requirements from the community and the client (e.g. the remedial work

must be carried out with the lake level at full supply level most of the time).

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude to G-MW (Goulburn-Murray Water) and the MDBA

(Murray Darling Basin Authority) for the permission to publish information on the seismic upgrade of the

Yarrawonga Weir. G-MW manages the Weir on behalf of the Murray Darling Basin Authority.

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