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Design of grout curtains under dams founded on rock

Time: Mon 2021-06-14 09.00

Location: Zoom-länk:, Du som saknar dator /datorvana kontakta / Use the e-mail address if you need technical assistance, Stockholm (English)

Subject area: Soil and Rock Mechanics

Doctoral student: Suihan Zhang , Jord- och bergmekanik

Opponent: Associate Professor Johan Funehag, Luleå University of Technology. Division of Mining and Geotechnical Engineering.

Supervisor: Docent Fredrik Johansson, Jord- och bergmekanik

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Grouting has long been implemented as a ground improvement technique to reduce the seepage through the rock mass. Grout curtains are usually constructed under dams as a barrier to prevent leakage from the reservoir. So far, the grout curtains under dams have mainly been designed by using an empirical design approach. However, the empirical approach has its limitations. Generally, the usage of “rules of thumbs” makes the design highly dependent on the experience of the designers. Lack of experience can result in insufficient or over-conservative grout curtains. For example, the stop criteria for the grouting process adopted by the empirical approach can lead to long grouting time and thus becomes inefficient. In addition, high grouting pressure may cause unexpected deformations of the rock and open up new leakage paths.

To deal with these limitations, a theory-based design methodology has been developed. Theories on rock grouting developed in recent decades are used to build up the design methodology. In the theory-based design methodology, the grout curtain is treated as a structural component in the dam foundation. The geometry and location of the grout curtain is first designed with respect to three requirements: (i) the hydraulic conductivity reduction, (ii) prevention of erosion of fracture infillings and (iii) optimization of uplift reduction. Grouting work is then designed to obtain the designed geometry of the grout curtain. In the design of the grouting work, analytical calculations are implemented to determine the grouting pressure, grouting time and grout hole layout. The stop criteria are based on the grouting time, which is believed to obtain better efficiency. The principles of the observational method are implemented to deal with the uncertainties involved in the grouting process. 

One of the main limitations with the proposed methodology is the limited research on the erosion process of fracture infilling materials in flowing water. To study this issue, coupled numerical analyses are performed to better understand the initiation of erosion of fracture infillings. The results show that the Hjulström and Shields diagram are not appropriate to be used to estimate the incipient motion of fracture infilling materials. Instead, a previous equation derived under laminar flows shows better agreement with the results.