Numerical Modelling of Masonry Dams Using the Discrete Element Method

Numerical Modelling of Masonry Dams Using the Discrete Element Method

Eduardo Martins Bretas (Northern Research Institute, Norway)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-0231-9.ch008
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This work concerns the numerical modelling of masonry dams using the Discrete Element Method. It begins with a review of the history of masonry dams and their behaviour. A numerical tool based on the Discrete Element Method developed specifically for the structural assessment of masonry dams is then presented. The mechanical calculations performed by the tool are discussed in detail, together with the approach used for the modelling of passive anchors and the modules for seismic analysis and hydromechanical analysis. Structural and hydraulic analyses of a diverse set of existing masonry dams conducted using the tool are then presented. The Discrete Element Method is shown to be capable of reproducing the structural behaviour of masonry dams and identifying their likely failure mechanisms as required for structural safety evaluations.
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The History Of Masonry Dams

The first manmade dams were built from earth and stones that were randomly deposited in order to close off a valley and thus create water reservoirs, primarily for agricultural purposes. Accidents were common and generally as resulted of flooding (International Commission on Large Dams [ICOLD], 2013). The Romans introduced important innovations in dam building, particularly by pioneering the use of new materials. Stone masonry was used in the construction of most Roman dams, which were generally built from stone blocks and hydraulic lime mortar (Schnitter, 1994). Stone masonry continued to be used for some time, but the lime was gradually replaced with cement. Subsequently, during the early twentieth century, concrete replaced stone masonry as the material of choice in dam building.

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