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The grouting of low permeability soils in dam foundations


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Brett, DM 1987 , 'The grouting of low permeability soils in dam foundations', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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In 1979 the author was appointed by his employers,
Consulting Engineers, Gutteridge Haskins and Davey Pty Ltd
as project engineer for the site investigation phase of a
feasibility study into the management of fresh Water
resources and contaminated water at the proposed Worsley
Alumina Refinery in the Darling Range of Western Australia.
He subsequently became project manager for the design
phase of the $40 million "Water Management System" for
which Gutteridge Haskins and Davey were responsible.
His total involvement with the project was completed when
he was seconded to the Project Managers Raymond Engineers,
Australia, Pty Ltd as an on-site technical consultant.
The Worsley "Water Management System" comprised three
'large dams', as defined by the International Committee on
Large Dams (ICOLD) over twenty kilometres of diversion
channels, various hydraulic structures, lined water,
storage basins, tailings disposal areas and various
seepage collection systems.
A particular feature of the project was a multi-backup
environmental protection system to control water
contaminated by caustic soda and other chemicals used on
the site.
The first level of protection involved the construction of
a storage reservoir, called the Refinery Catchment Lake,
to the highest practical degree of water tightness.
Part of the design for this reservoir comprised the
incorporation of a grout curtain beneath the earth fill
embankment in the thick weathered in-situ laterite soils. Field testing confirmed that only low viscosity chemical
grout could effectively reduce the already low
permeability of the foundation,
Chemical grouting of soils is a relatively recent
engineering development, and whilst a certain amount of
experience has been gained, particularly over the past
twenty five years, the procedures to be used are far from
being precisely defined.
Practical field testing at the Refinery Catchment Lake Dam
Site indicated potential problems with some grouting
procedures used at other sites in the past. These
procedures related principally to the grout pressures and
injection volumes used with evidence that excessive
hydraulic fracturing of the low permeability soil was
counter productive to the overall aim of economically
reducing permeability.
The thesis describes the design of the Refinery Catchment
Lake Dam, reviews the history and theory of chemical
grouting and discusses some relevant case histories. It
then describes the development of a practical technique
used to inject cement/bentonite grout and a phenoplast
grout, Geoseal MQ4, into the dam foundations to achieve
the design requirements.
The thesis was prepared following post-construction
research by the author to deepen his knowledge on the
general subject of chemical grouting. The thesis was written in the belief that the work carried
out at the Refinery Catchment Lake Dam was unique in terms
of the attempted reduction of already low permeability.
It is believed that in documenting a major field operation
the thesis makes a positive contribution to the increase
in knowledge of low permeability soil grouting techniques
and points to areas where additional academic research is

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Brett, DM
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1985 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

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Thesis (M.E.)--University of Tasmania, 1987

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