Geotechnical Society of Edmonton

NEWS 2010

Posted September 13, 2010 (Updated September 29, 2010)

Event: October 6, 2010

U of A Distinguished Speaker Series: Dr. James K. Mitchell, Virginia Tech - Ground Improvement for Mitigation of Seismic Risk to Existing Embankment Dams

Location: ETLC Building, University of Alberta

Time: 4pm Reception, 5pm Presentation

Cost: Free

Additional Details on U of A Civil Engineering website

View Dr. Bruce's Presentation (PDF): Part 1 and Part 2

The majority of major embankment dams in operation today were constructed many years ago - before the implications of the large 1964 earthquakes in Anchorage, Alaska and Niigata, Japan jump-started geotechnical earthquake engineering. Only thereafter was it appreciated that there could be major risks to dams that had not been realized at the time of their original construction. The near catastrophe following the failure of the Lower San Fernando Dam in California in 1971 served to accelerate the re-evaluation of the seismic safety of many dams. Mitigation of seismic risk is now one of the major applications of ground improvement.

The following topics will be discussed and illustrated in this lecture:

  • Types of dam failure and distress that can occur as a result of seismic loading.
  • Why so many existing embankment dams require remediation.
  • Strategies and ground improvement methods available for mitigation the risk of failure during and following earthquake loading.
  • Illustration, by means of case histories, of how several dams have been fixed.
  • Trends in mitigation strategies in recent years.
  • Some unresolved problems and thoughts about future developments.


c/o. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
7th Floor, Danadeo Innovation Center for Engineering
9211 - 116 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta
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