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45

STRENGHTENING THE SPULLERSEE DAMS

Article for The International Journal on


Hydropower and Dams

R. Bremen and F. Amberg


Lombardi Engineering Ltd, Switzerland
G. Lehmann
sterreichische Bundesbahnen (BB), Austria

Our Ref.: 102.2-R-155

Minusio, March 2004

STRENGHTENING THE SPULLERSEE DAMS - Article for Hydropower and Dams

TABLE OF CONTENTS
page

1.

SUMMARY

2.

INTRODUCTION

3.

THE EXISTING DAMS

4.

MAIN PROJECT FEATURES

5.

STABILITY ANALYSES

5.1

Generalities

5.2

Loading conditions and evaluation of earth pressure

5.3

Dynamic analysis of gravity dams

6.

CONSTRUCTION WORKS

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STRENGHTENING THE SPULLERSEE DAMS - Article for Hydropower and Dams

1.

SUMMARY

The strengthening works of the Spullersee dams in Austria started in 2002 after a
relatively extensive design phase. The finally adopted solution involving the
placement of a rockfill shoulder on the downstream faces of the gravity dams is
presently under construction. The rather uncommon project features and some
particular analyses are presented.

2.

INTRODUCTION

After World War I, and in order to meet the growing electricity demand, the Austrian Railways (sterreichische Bundesbahnen, BB) decided the construction of
the Spullersee powerplant located in the Vorarlberg region. Two gravity structures
built between 1922 and 1926 formed the original reservoir with a N. W. L. at el.
1825.00 m a.s.l.

Figure 1:

General layout of the Spullersee scheme.

In 1965 both dams have been heightened to increase the available storage capacity
to 15.7 mio. m 3 . The heightening project included the pouring of 3.3 m high concrete blocks on the crests of the dams and the installation of vertical pre-stressed
anchors associated with a 4.6 m raise of the N. W. L. The BBRV-type anchors had
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STRENGHTENING THE SPULLERSEE DAMS - Article for Hydropower and Dams

been grouted on the entire length, a common practice in this period, in order that
no reliable control of their efficiency and of the corrosion protection are presently
possible.
The lack of reliable control methods combined with some signs of corrosion does
no longer allow considering the contribution of the pre-stressed anchors to the
dams stability. Remedial measures had thus to be developed to provide proper
stability conditions of the dams under static and dynamic loads.
Various alternatives and proposals have been developed in the last years for the
rehabilitation of both gravity dams. However, for various reasons none of these
projects has come to the construction phase.
The finally proposed solution, presently under construction, consists to replace
the stability contribution of the 40 years old anchors with a rockfill shoulder
placed on the downstream faces of the dams. This relatively uncommon solution
was preferred to other alternatives mainly for the positive effect on the environment and the rather low costs.

Figure 2:

View of the Spullersee reservoir with the north dam in front.

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STRENGHTENING THE SPULLERSEE DAMS - Article for Hydropower and Dams

3.

THE EXISTING DAMS

Both gravity dams have similar cross sections as shown in Figure 3 with a maximum
height of 38.4m for the south dam and 27.6m for the north one. With nearly vertical faces for the upper 8 m dam section, the ratio between the dam width and the
height of the water column is below 0.70 immediately above the downstream berm
in order that the dams stability can only be achieved with the contribution of the
prestressed anchors.

Figure 3:

Typical cross section of the south Spullersee dam after the heightening in
1965.

The concrete volume is 68600 m 3 for the south dam and 27400 m 3 for the north
one. The overall properties of the prestressed anchors are summarized in Table 1.
After the anchor tensioning, the entire free length was grouted with cement mortar in order that no load tests can be carried out. Some corrosion damages on the
anchors could be identified within an extensive investigation program carried out
in 1986 although a quantitative prediction of the corrosion evolution could not be
achieved.

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Properties of Spullersee anchors

Unit

South dam

North dam

[-]

BBRV

BBRV

[t/m]

40

15

Working load

[t]

132

63

Average anchor distance

[m]

3.30

4.40

Total anchor length (max.)

[m]

47.4

32.2

Anchored length

[m]

2.80

2.80

Number of anchors

[-]

75

43

Number of strands (7.0 mm diam.)

[-]

35

17

Total strand section

[mm 2 ]

1'348

655

Section of borehole

[mm]

101

76

Ultimate tensile stress (U.T.S.)

[MPa]

1740

1740

Working tensile stress

[MPa]

980

980

Anchor-type
Anchor force per dam meter

Table 1:

Main features of the Spullersee anchors installed in 1965

The lack of reliable control methods of the anchors in terms of working load and
corrosion resulted finally to consider remedial measures in order to provide satisfactory stability conditions of the dams without taking into consideration the contribution of the existing anchors.
Various strengthening alternatives have been investigated including the construction of new higher dams, the replacement of the existing anchors with new posttensioned anchors or the pouring of a 3-4 m thick concrete slab on the downstream
faces to increase the weight of the dams.
However due to cost, durability, seismic behaviour or environmental reasons, the
previous alternatives have been successively abandoned and a new strengthening
concept had to be developed. The finally adopted concept consists basically in the
construction of a downstream rockfill shoulder using the locally available materials as described hereafter.

4.

MAIN PROJECT FEATURES

The main project requirements to be taken into consideration for the strengthening project are:
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long term and maintenance free strenghtening of the dams,


no interference of the works with the normal reservoir operation, and
limitation as much as possible of material transports and construction nuisances
since the dam is located in a touristic relevant and environmentally sensitive
area.
Following the analysis of various alternatives, the finally selected concept is
shown in Figure 4. The stabilizing forces of the prestressed anchors are replaced
by the weight of the rockfill shoulder. The purpose of the rockfill is thus only to
increase the weight of the gravity dams without any other stability contribution or
seepage control. Since only the weight contribution is relevant, relatively poor
quality fill materials as locally available can be used for the embankment. Only a
sufficienly high permeability of the embankment material is required in order that
rainfall or melting snow will not built-up any uplift at the contact surface between
the gravity dam and the embankment.

Figure 4:

Typical cross section of the south Spullersee dam after strengthening


works.

The embankment will result in a significant decrease of the temperature variations


in the dam concrete with favourable effects on ageing. Furthermore the crest of
the embankment will be enlarged and equipped with a new crest road to be used
by local traffic.
In addition to laboratory tests carried out on material samples, a large scale insitu test was performed to determine the compaction procedure and the finally resulting material properties. Some of the obtained results are listed in Table 2. The

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obtained material parameters were significantly better than the adopted design
parameters. To mention that a cohesion of 9 kN/m 2 was obtained with a Standard
Proctor ranging between 75 and 81%, whereas for a 95% Standard Proctor value a
cohesion of 87 kN/m 2 was measured.
Main project features

Unit

South dam

North dam

Embankment volume

[m 3 ]

55000

30000

Crest el. of embankment

[m a.s.l.]

1820.0

1827.0

Embankment slope (H:V)

[-]

Specific weight s
Gross weight (dry) d

28.5

[kN/m ]

21.7

[]

34.1

[kN/m 2 ]

9-87

[cm/s]

7.8.10- 2 4.9.10 -4

[kN/m ]

Friction angle of rockfill


Cohesion
Permeability

1.5:1
3

Number of reinforcement bars

[-]

96

32

[mm]

50

40

Max. length of reinforcement bars

[m]

21

12

Minimum distance between bars

[m]

1.65

4.4

Diameter of reinforcement bars

Table 2:

Main characteristics of the embankment material and reinforcement bars


for the strengthening of the Spullersee dams.

To provide a sufficient resistance of the dam crests under dynamic loads, passive
anchors are installed in the upper dam portion. These anchors do not provide any
contribution to the dam stability under static loads, but improve significantly the
dynamic behaviour of the dam crests.
Finally since the south dam was equipped with an auxiliary spillway located on the
right dam abutment at the centre of the dam crest, the capacity of the main
spillway had to be increased and overflow sill on the dam crest abandoned.

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5.

STABILITY ANALYSES

5.1 Generalities

The proposed strengthening concept has to offer adequate stability conditions of


the dams without considering the contribution of the pre-stressed anchors. The
stability analyses were performed for the concrete dams and for the rockfill embankments. Different geometrical and computational models were considered taking into account various dam sections and embankments profiles. Only the general
aspects of the computational models used and some typical results will be discussed hereafter.
For the gravity dams a general safety analysis was carried out. In addition a dynamic seismic analysis was performed in order to evaluate the structural safety
under extreme seismic loads. The stability of the embankments was finally analysed with the standard Bishop method.

5.2

Loading conditions and evaluation of earth pressure

In the stability analyses normal and exceptional loading cases have been considered. The relevant loading conditions and parameters taken into consideration are
the following:
unit weight of concrete

: 24 kN/m 3 ,

uplift

: 85% and triangular distribution

normal water level

: 1829.60 m a.s.l.,

maximum water level

: 1830.40 m a.s.l.,

ground peak acceleration for OBE

: 0.6 m/s 2

ground peak acceleration for MCE

: 1.2 m/s 2

ice load

: 60 kN/m

earth pressure of by the downstream rockfill embankment.


The ground peak accelerations for the OBE (Operating Basis Earthquake) and the
MCE (Maximum Credible Eearthquake) were defined according to the Austrian
earthquake guidelines. The vertical acceleration was assumed equal to 2/3 of the
horizontal one.

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An essential feature of the strengthening project is undoubtedly the earth pressure induced by the rockfill on the downstream faces of the gravity dams. Since
the gravity dams are significantly more rigid than the embankment, the fill pressure is mainly due to gravity and can be considered independent from the geotechnical properties of the rockfill.
The earth pressure on the gravity dam was determined using the Culmann [1]
method. This method is based on the assumption that the earth pressure results
from a stability analysis, similarly to the standard analytical Rankine method used
for the evaluation of the active and passive earth pressures. The graphical method
of Culmann can be applied to very complex geometries.
For different rigid bodies a stability analysis is performed assuming a limit equilibrium on the slip surface, i.e. the reaction force R acts under the full friction angle
as shown in Figure 5. The active earth pressure corresponds to the maximum pressure by assuming limit equilibrium with positive shear forces along the sliding surface (the rigid body tends to move towards the concrete dam). Similarly the passive pressure corresponds to a minimum by assuming negative shear forces (the
rigid body is pushed downstream). The critical sliding surface, thus the value of
the earth pressure, is identified by an iterative process.

Figure 5:

Earth pressures resulting from the equilibrium of a rigid body delimited


by an iteratively defined slip surface.

For the evaluation of the earth pressure a unit fill weight of 20 kN/m 3 was considered.

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Within the dynamic analysis of the dams the earth pressure was also determined
with a finite elements analysis. This calculation showed earth pressure values 5 to
15% higher then the simplified Culmann method.
The FEM analysis was also used to assess the effect of different friction angles between the dam face and the rockfill. The effect on the dam stability was however
very limited in order that this effect can be neglected.

5.3

Dynamic analysis of gravity dams

In addition to the conventional stability analyses of the dams under static loads,
the dynamic behaviour was investigated. The stability of the dams under seismic
loads was initially analysed, using a simplified pseudo-static method. However due
to the type and dimensions of the dams a response spectra dynamic analysis was
required. The purpose of the dynamic analysis was the integrity assessment of the
concrete dams, while the evaluation of the seismic stability of the rockfill was
carried out using pseudo static approaches completed with a displacements analysis by Newmark [1].
For the dynamic analysis, the fill pressure was considered as added masses. This
computational artifice was necessary for a correct determination of the higher
modal frequencies of the concrete dam.
The selected approach is rather conservative since both the high damping effect
and the plastic behaviour of the rockfill, absorbing part of the dynamic energy are
neglected.
The reservoir was modelised as added mass distributed according to the Westergaard law.
The modal frequencies have been determined until 30 Hz and at least 95% of the
total mass. The modes were superposed according to the SRSS method (square root
of sum of squares).
The response spectra of the rock foundation and a 5% damping factor was defined
according to the Austrian earthquake guidelines. For shorter period than 0.03 s the
response acceleration corresponds to the ground peak acceleration of 1.72 m/s 2 ,

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while between 0.1 and 0.45 s the maximum response acceleration of 4.7 m/s 2 are
reached.
Some results are summarised in Table 3 and illustrated in Figure 6 for the higher
south dam.
Participating mass
Mode

F [Hz]

T [s]

Horizontal

Vertical

6.1

0.165

57.3 %

0.4 %

12.5

0.080

30.4 %

0.1 %

17.5

0.057

1.2 %

95.2 %

22.4

0.045

9.4 %

1.4 %

Table 2:

South dam Modal analysis results with frequency F, period T and percentage of participating mass.

Figure 6:

South dam with rockfill at elevation 1820 m a.s.l. Modal analysis, 1st
and 2nd mode shapes.

The first two modes produce mainly horizontal displacements, in particular at the
dam crest, while the third mode is clearly a vertical excitation. Moreover the first
mode is in the frequency domain of the maximum response acceleration. This results in a significant increase of the acceleration at the dam crest with a value of
about 14 m/s 2 , i.e. 10 times the ground peak acceleration.

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STRENGHTENING THE SPULLERSEE DAMS - Article for Hydropower and Dams

The combination of the MCE with the static loads shows maximal tensile stresses
up to 2 MPa at the south dam. This maximum value is reached at the upstream
dam face were reinforcement bars will be installed.

6.

CONSTRUCTION WORKS

The works started in Spring 2002 following the project approval by the Regional
and National Authorities and the award of the construction contract to a JV of
Austrian companies (Teerag-Asdag, Porr, Prantl).
The works carried out in 2002 included mainly the modification of the spillway
structures and the preparation of the foundation for the rockfill at the south dam.
Following the interruption of the works during winter, the construction program
continued with the new access and drainage adits as well as with the placement of
the fill material at the south dam. Some difficulties with the construction of the
new access and drainage galleries resulted in a delay of the construction works compared to the program schedules. Figure 7 shows the south dam during Summer 2003
with the completed supports for the drainage gallery at the downstream dam toe.

Figure 7:

Construction works on the south Spullersee dam in Summer 2003.

The construction of the embankment will resume in spring 2004 with a completion
of the works planned in 2005.
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STRENGHTENING THE SPULLERSEE DAMS - Article for Hydropower and Dams

Roger Bremen graduated in civil engineering from the Swiss


Federal Institute of Technology of Lausanne (Switzerland) in 1987.
After receiving a PhD in hydraulics from the same institute he
has been involved in the design, construction and rehabilitation of numerous dams and hydro power projects in Switzerland and abroad. He is currently head of the Hydraulic Structure Department at Lombardi Engineering Ltd.

Francesco Amberg graduated in 1995 in civil engineering from


the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology of Zurich (Switzerland).
He has been working since 1995 at Lombardi Engineering Ltd.,
mainly in numerical analyses of concrete dams in Switzerland
and abroad as well as for problems related to rock mechanics.
He was involved in the rehabilitation works from the preliminary design to the stability and dynamic analyses of the Spullersee Dams in Austria.

Georg Lehmann graduated in civil engineering from the Technical University of Vienna (Austria) in 1981. He has been working at the design, construction and supervision of tunnels and
hydro power plants in Austria. He is also involved in rehabilitation project and surveillance of large dams of the Austrian
Federal Railways.

Lombardi Engineering Ltd., via R. Simen 19, 6648 Minusio-Locarno, Switzerland

sterreichische Bundesbahnen, Geschftsbereich Kraftwerke, Claudiastrasse 2A6020 Innsbruck, Austria

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