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Cracking of Earth and Rockfill Dams. Tension Zones in Embankments Caused by Conduits and Cutoff Walls

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Final rept.

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The purpose of this study was to investigate by means of the finite element method 1 the effect of rigid conduits and cutoff walls on the stress distribution and on the development of tension zones in embankments and their foundations, and 2 the distribution of stresses acting on the sides of conduits and cutoff walls. All materials were assumed to be linearly elastic with equal properties in tension and in compression. The only load considered was the weight of the embankment and it was assumed to be applied in a single lift. Detailed investigation by means of the finite element method included six cases of conduits and four cases of cutoff walls. In the case of conduits, it was demonstrated that tension zones occur adjacent to conduits with sharp edges, and that the presence of a zone of more compressible material above the roof effectively improves the loading conditions on the conduit. In the case of cutoff walls beneath embankments, it was shown that tension zones develop in the upper part of the embankment and adjacent to the top of the wall. While the presence of a zone of more compressible material on top of the wall reduces the load on the upper surface of the wall, it somewhat increases the friction forces along the sides of the wall.

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  • Civil Engineering

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