Sliding stability re-assessment of concrete dams with bonded concrete-rock interfaces

University dissertation from KTH Royal Institute of Technology

Abstract: The shear strength of the concrete-rock interface is an important parameter in sliding stability analyses of concrete dams founded on rock and depends, in addition to the normal stress state, on the bonding conditions of the interface; concrete-rock interfaces can be either unbonded, partially bonded or fully bonded.In the Swedish guidelines for dam safety all dam-foundation contacts are treated as unbonded. This has the benefit of eliminating all uncertainties related to the cohesive strength of bonded contacts but it might also lead to unnecessary strengthening of dams. Other national guidelines deal with the uncertainties related to cohesion by applying higher safety factors, mainly determined based on previous experience, when both cohesion and friction are taken into account.The main objective of this project is to study if and how cohesion can be included when evaluating the shear strength of bonded or partially bonded interfaces. To accomplish this, uncertainties associated with cohesion are identified and their influence on the assessed stability is investigated.The results show that the influence on the assessed sliding stability is strongly dependent on the magnitude of the involved uncertainties that might vary significantly for different dams. It is thus questionable if one safety factor applicable for all dams can be established for use in deterministic analyses.Taking into account cohesion when reliability methods are used is somewhat less complicated because of the possibility of directly incorporating the uncertainties in the analysis. The main challenge in such cases is the quantification of the involved uncertainties due to lack of proper data and, in some cases, knowledge. In this thesis, a framework for quantification of parameter uncertainty is suggested and the model error due to brittle failure in combination with spatial variation in cohesion is analysed. Areas that require more research to further refine the analysis are also identified.