6570, 2012
Available online at http://www.cjasr.com
ISSN: 22519114, 2012 CJASR
65
Seepage Analysis in the Earth Dam with Clay Core Using Seep/w SoftwareA
Case Study of the Karkheh Dam in Western Dezful
Arash Mohebatzadeh
1*
, Ali Gholami
2
, Najaf Hedayat
3
and Amir Roshandel
1
1
Department of Civil Engineering, Islamic Azad University, Dezful Branch, Khouzestan, Iran
2
Department of Soil Science, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, khouzestan, Iran
3
Assistant Professor, Islamic Azad University Dezful Branch, Khouzestan, Iran
*Corresponding Author: Email: a_mohebatzadeh@yahoo.com
Renewable water resources in arid and semiarid regions are considered as the vital ingredient for sustainable
economic development and rural regeneration. The water resources stored behind the reservoir dams because of
its potential energy reserve which tends to seep through the body of the structures such as the dams. This
hydraulic characteristic has caused the water as active flow infiltrating through the permeable and porous mass
of the foundation and the main structure and seeps to downstream. Given such importance, the researchers and
experts place an emphasis on the study of seepage and its accurate estimation as an important priority in the
feasibility study and design phases of the river engineering projects to ensure efficient operational performance
that also guarantees sustainability of the structure in question. The aim of the present study is to have a two
dimensional numerical simulation of the seepage phenomenon using the Seep/w software in Karkheh earth dam
under semisaturated soil type. Results indicated a significant statistical difference between the model data and
the realtime observed data in such a way that the model estimated the seepage rate to be about twice those that
were observed in the study area. Results further showed that by a 30% decrease in the coefficient of permeability
the estimated seepage rate by the modeling will show a decrement of 50%. This might be due to the difference
between the coefficients of permeability of the simulated and actual dams materials, which is partly for the
safety factor consideration and partly linked to inaccuracy of the instruments to measure the realtime seepage.
Key words: seepage, earth dam, semisaturated and saturated soils, seep/w software
1. INTRODUCTION
One of the ways in which to counter the applied
hydraulic forces on the main body of the earth
dams is the shear weight of these structures. This
makes it necessary to design and construct the
structures having a gravity and trapezoidal shape.
Because of the use of earth materials in the core of
dam, seepage is quite common which necessitates
appropriate measures to meet the challenges and
potential safety considerations. For this reason,
accurate estimation of seepage would be crucial
for design and construction stages. Excessive
seepage from the foundation and the main
structure of the dam not only might pose a
potential source of instability but can under certain
circumstances result in complete breakage of the
dam with disastrous consequences (Rahimi, 2007).
Because of the importance attached to such a
phenomenon in river engineering and hydraulics,
various research works have been conducted.
Qaderi (2005) has investigated the hydrodynamic
behavior through the porous soil layers that
resulted in the presentation of a mathematical
equation. Raddi (2003) focused their investigation
on the seepage forces and the ways in which they
develop based on the Darcy Law. U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers (2004) have investigated the
seepage control methods by considering some
variables such as the hydrodynamic behavior
under porous conditions of the water control
systems having earth core.
The present paper focuses on the seepage
process through the foundation and the main boy
of the dam structure using the Seep/W software
that incorporates Geo Studio and finite element
method. The process involves assessing various
scenarios by comparing the model data with the
observed data which included reliability and
validity verifications.
2. MATERIALS AND METHODS
The Karkheh dam is the largest dam in Iran having
a 7.4 billion m
3
maximum flooding capacity and
5.6 billion m
3
normal operational levels. The
purpose was to prevent flooding on one hand and
collect the surface runoffs to meet the demands of
various sectors particularly the farmers in the
320,000ha command area as well as generating
934 gig watts of electricity on the other.
The structure of the dam is constituted of an
Mohebatzadeh et al.
Seepage Analysis in the Earth Dam with Clay Core Using Seep/w SoftwareA Case Study of the Karkheh Dam in
Western Dezful
66
earth core with an altitude of 127 m from the sea
level and the crown length of 3030 m. The site of
the dam is on the Conglomerate Bakhtiari
geological structure with relative high
permeability separated by nonpermeable fine
grains (MGCEC, 2002).
For this reason and in order to minimize the
porosity and permeability problems particularly on
foundations and the middle section of the main
dam, blanket walls with plastic concrete are
incorporated in the design to enhance the material
strength and sustainability of the structure under
harsh environmental conditions. The analysis
section is shown in the Fig. 1, where the height of
the dam and the normal hydraulic level at
maximum condition with cutoff wall are existed.
The permeability parameters of the foundation
and the main core of the dam which have been
used in the construction analysis are shown in
Table 1 below.
Table 1: The Permeability Rate of the Foundation and Core of the Karkheh Dam (MGCEC, 1995)
Materials Kx (cm/s) Ky (cm/s)
Clay core 110
6
110
7
shell 110
3
110
4
Conglomerate 510
3
510
4
Mudstone 510
6
510
7
Cutoff wall 110
6
110
6
Due to the complexity of the analytical
methods, the numerical methods are applied for
the solution of the problems in hand. The finite
elements method is the most appropriate one for
the conditions for the Karkheh dam. The main
equation for seepage in twodimensional state is
expressed as follows:
 = h (1)
0 =


.

\

c
c
c
c
+

.

\

c
c
c
c
y
k
y x
k
x
y x
 
(2)
Boundary conditions:
Drishilleh boundary condition:
p
  = (3)
Newman boundary condition:
q
n
k =
c
c
(4)
In equation 4, n is the external vertical vector
perpendicular to the boundary and q is flow
discharge which is assumed here to be zero. By
dividing the contiguous region into smaller
elements the solution of the problem will be
limited to obtaining in the nodes which are
obtained by joining the small elements. The
procedure for this is as follows:
a) Meshing of the various flow regions into
smaller elements
b) Determination of the separated equations
c) Establishment of coefficient matrix
d) Solution of equations
After estimation of the node quantities, the iso
potential and flow line obtained the seepage flow
can be estimated. In the seepage analysis of the
foregone problem all the stages are carried out by
the Seep/w software.
The one of special features for seep/w software
is the modeling of semisaturated soil condition
that effects on permeability. Hence in this case
must define function that the permeability in that
section changed as linear and out of this section
spotted as constant. In this function, permeability
in 0 kpa pressures is equal with saturated hydraulic
conductance and in 100 kpa pressures equal with
0.01 of saturated hydraulic conductance (Javaheri
and Pakniat, 2009).
Thus for above condition, this function given to
the model and results for clay core is shown in Fig.
2. In this research due to water pressure in the
reservoir, the bed layers before cutoff simulated
as saturated and after that as semi saturated.
Caspian Journal of Applied Sciences Research, 1(11), pp. 6570, 2012
67
Fig. 1: The main core section of the dam and the location of the instruments
Fig. 2: The relation between the pressure and the unsaturated permeability
3. RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
Results of the seepage analysis for the foundation
and the core of the dam structure are shown in
Table 2. The comparison of the model results with
the observations data shows that the results of the
software are circa twofold of the real values.
Mohebatzadeh et al.
Seepage Analysis in the Earth Dam with Clay Core Using Seep/w SoftwareA Case Study of the Karkheh Dam in
Western Dezful
68
Table 2: The outlet seepage discharge of the foundation and core of the dam
Seepage computed by software
( m3/day)
Actual seepage
(m3/day)
Difference
7 3.6 3.44
Results of simulation modeling further were
estimated the hydraulic gradient at the core of the
dam as 1.5 (see Table III) whereas this was shown
to be 5.5 near the cutoff (Fig. 3). Given that the
core length at a certain height is 3050% of the
water level at that depth, the maximum hydraulic
gradient of 23 could be appropriate design criteria
(Tomlison and Vaid, 2000). Any increase in this
quantity the possibility of instability will increase
and a process of erosion in the foundation and core
could gradually occur (Sajedi et al., 2010).
Table 3: Hydraulic Gradient in the Core
Computed by software Presented actual Difference
1.5 1.6 0.1
However, such difference might not reflect the
reality because there might have been error in
measurements by the measuring equipments or
operational errors reflected in the observational
data.
Fig. 3: The seepage and hydraulic gradient rates computed by software
Despite having a hydraulic gradient in the core
within an acceptable safety range nonetheless any
increment of this could pose serious erosion and
piping effects in the vicinity of the cutoff wall
with subsequent sustainability problems for the
whole structure and its downstream installations as
well as the command area.
Results of sensitivity tests showed that decrease
of 30% in the coefficient of permeability of the
materials was followed by a 50% decrease in the
seepage rate (Table 4) which suggest a clear
sensitivity of the model to variations in seepage
coefficient (Sing and Varshney ,1995).
Table 4: Outlet Seepage Flow of the Foundation and Core of the Dam Including Reduce of the Permeability Factors
Seepage computed by software
)m3/day)
Actual seepage
(m3/day)
Difference
4.9 3.6 1.3
Such variations on the other hand did not result
in a significant difference in the hydraulic gradient
(see Table V). The overall conclusion being that
no relation exists between the seepage coefficient
and the hydraulic gradient (Terzaghi and Peck,
1989).
Caspian Journal of Applied Sciences Research, 1(11), pp. 6570, 2012
69
Table 5: Hydraulic Gradient Rate of the Core Including Reduce of the Permeability Factors
Computed by software Actual seepage Difference
1.5 1.6 0.1
Given the proximity between decreased in
seepage as shown by the model (Fig. 4) and the
observed data it could be deducted that the design
data on construction materials are more
conservative than the realtime measurements.
This is interpreted to mean that such a
conservative design features might have been
adopted by the designers to increase the safety
factors of the hydraulic installations as well as the
operational and maintenance considerations.
Fig. 4: Rate of the hydraulic gradient and discharge computed by software including reduce of the permeability factor
4. CONCLUSION
The purpose of this study is the numerical
simulation of the seepage phenomenon in Karkheh
earth dam under semisaturated soil type using the
Seep/w. Results showed that the hydraulic gradient
in the core within an satisfactory safety range but
increment this quantity in the vicinity of the cut
off wall could pose serious erosion and piping
effects with following sustainability problems for
the whole structure and its downstream
installations .the substantial difference between the
model and the observation data is due to the
increment of permeability of the materials in
software for increase the safety factor primarily
and error in measurements by the equipments or
operational errors reflected in the observational
data secondly.
REFERENCES
Gaderi(2005)Various relationships, nonDarcy
seepage flow model and calculated in
complex environments, Fifth Conference of
hydraulics
Javaheri A, Pakniat A (2009). Dynamic and Static
analysis of earth dams using Geostudio.
Elm omran publication, 371 pages.
Rahimi H, (2007). Earth dams, Tehran university
publication.
MGCEC (Mahab Ghodss Consulting Engineering
Company) (2002). Design of karkheh dam.
Vol. 2: Final report for body of karkheh
dam, 2002, 314 pages.
MGCEC (Mahab Ghodss Consulting Engineering
Company) (1995). Design of karkheh dam.
second step studies: report for geology of
karkheh dam, 1995, 293 pages.
Reddi LN (2003). Seepage in soils principles and
applications. John Wiley and Sons, inc.
Sajedi H, Hedayat N, Mashal M (2010).
Investigating sedimentation process in the
lined canals using SHARC softwareA case
study of the wester iontake in the Dez
Mohebatzadeh et al.
Seepage Analysis in the Earth Dam with Clay Core Using Seep/w SoftwareA Case Study of the Karkheh Dam in
Western Dezful
70
diversion weir in Iran, Proceedings of the
WASET Confernce in Paris, 2628 July ,
Paris France.
Singh B, Varshney RS (1995). Engineering for
Embankment Dams. A. A. Balkema Inc.,
Rotherdam, Brookfield.
Terzaghi K, Peck RB (1989) soil mechanics in
engineering practice, john Wiley and Sons
inc., new york, n.y, 1967.M. Young, The
Techincal Writers Handbook. Mill Valley,
CA: University Science,
Tomlinson SS, Vaid YP (2000). Seepage Forces
and Confining Pressure Effects on Piping
Erosion. Canadian Geotechnical Journal, 37
(1): 113.
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2004).
Engineering and Design General Design
and construction consideration for earth and
rockfill dams. Department of the Army,
USACE, Washington, DC. EM 11102
2300.
.