Original Article

Environmental Geology

, Volume 52, Issue 6, pp 1053-1065

First online:

Method of leakage study at the karst dam site. A case study: Khersan 3 Dam, Iran

  • Zargham MohammadiAffiliated withEarth Sciences, Shiraz University Email author 
  • , Ezzatollah RaeisiAffiliated withEarth Sciences, Shiraz University
  • , Michel BakalowiczAffiliated withHydrosciences, Montpellier 2 University

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The excellent topographic condition of the limestone canyons for dam construction may be rejected if they are karstified. Karst features cause the reservoir not to be impermeable enough to permit the water to fill it and leakage occurs and often increases with time. Moreover, karst features may involve the stability of the dam itself. A few operated dam sites at the Zagros Zone encountered a leakage problem. Furthermore, more than 30 dams are presently under study for construction in the Zagros Zone. Karst conditions and leakage potential were investigated at an under-study site (Khersan 3 Dam) for assessing the general methodology for the study of leakage potentials. Conventional methods for studying karst features, geological mapping, geomorphology and extensive borings were applied before the dam was constructed. These methods are not efficient enough to precisely reveal the karst structure, especially hidden and paleokarst, nor the hydrological behaviour of the karst structure in different settings of groundwater flow. Based on the present case study and previous applied approaches by other authors, this paper introduces a methodology by means of karst structure and functioning approaches at local and regional scales that cover the conventional methods and overcome their shortages. The proposed methodology should be applied before construction of a dam and should include three steps (a) recognition of geological and hydrogeological settings, (b) delineation and functioning of the karst system related to the future reservoir, and (c) assessment of the leakage potentials. Following this methodology, the most probable leakage zone(s) and path(s) at the dam site can be highlighted.


Dams Leakage Karst system Functioning of karst aquifer Zagros Zone Iran