SVFlux 3D - Dam Analysis Application

Dam failure is an important issue engineers and hydrologists must consider during reservoir filling. Factors such as internal erosion and piping occurances caused by seepage can lead to dam failure, resulting in a disaster. Seepage analyses are an important tool for assessing the possibility of seepage failure in dams and studying hydraulic conditions for analyzing the stability of dam slopes.

Three-dimensional numerical modeling of dams and resevoirs provides an accurate analysis, where two-dimensional models tend to underestimate the risk of seepage failure in cases where:

  • The seepage water flows faster and hydraulic gradients are greater near the abutment boundary in the dam.
  • Materials in the dam are uniform, the reservoir water sould infiltrate into the dam along a downward flow path towards the riverbed, and not exit from the surface on the downstream slope.

SVFlux has been successfully applied to concrete-faced rockfill dam analyses and proven itself a valuable tool in analyzing dam failure susceptibility. Specifically, the following features make SVFlux the premier tool for dam analyses:

  • The automatic mesh generation allows quick meshing of complicated 3D problems.
  • 3D and transient analyses are available.
  • Advanced formulations and algorithms to handle nonlinear unsaturated analysis.
  • Highly detailed mesh generation allows representation of fine features such as the overliner material, preferential flow paths, multiple regions, irregular internal geometry, or decreasing hydraulic conductivity with depth.
  • Automatic mesh refinement allows accurate calculation of wetting fronts in dry soils.
  • Surfaces of existing topography can be created and input into the model from survey data.
  • Climate data such as precipitation, temperatures, and net radiation may be incorporated into the model for analysis of long-term performance.

SoilVision Systems would like to thank Dr. Qun Chen and Limin Zhang from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology for their assistance with this problem. Click here to download the research paper.

Please contact us here for more information regarding the application of SVFlux to dam analysis applications.

Dam Analysis

Earth Dam Problems

Dam Liner Failure


Determination of gradients produced by a failure of the upstream liner system in an earth dam.
Model setup time: 4 hours

Dam Design


Determination of water pressures and flow gradients through an earth dam in a valley. This problem also illustrates the ability of SVFlux to pinch out intersecting layers at the edges of the earth dam.
Model setup time: 19 minutes
Solution time: 6 minutes 43 seconds on PIII-1.0 GHz
Nodes: 6999

Earth Fill Dam


Determination of water pressures in a simple earth dam.
Model setup time: 22 minutes
Solution time: 7 seconds on PIII-1.0 GHz
Nodes: 2023

Example Dam


Determination of water pressures water table location in an earth dam feature.
Model setup time: 19 minutes
Solution time: 7 minutes 30 seconds on PIII-1.0 GHz
Nodes: 15744
Mica Earth Dam 3D

This is an example of modeling the core of the Mica earth dam in 3D. The layers outside the core and the bedrock are not represented in the model because they are several orders of magnitude more conductive and therefore they don't influence model results.