Experimental and Numerical Modeling of Nano-clay Effect on Seepage Rate in Earth Dams

  • Poorya TaghvaeiEmail author
  • Seyed Farhad Mousavi
  • Ali Shahnazari
  • Hojjat Karami
  • Issa Shoshpash
Original Paper


Earth dams control and store river water. Type of the earth dam is selected on the basis of available borrow sources. Where it is not possible to have access to suitable fine-grained sources for constructing an earth dam, then using homogeneous materials and an impermeable blanket is recommended. In this research, a mixture of sandy soil with 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1 wt% of montmorillonite nano-clay was used to make the impermeable blanket. After initial tests of gradation, permeability, and optimum moisture content on the soils, experimental models of homogeneous earth dam with an impermeable blanket were constructed. The time needed to reach the steady-state phreatic line and seepage discharge in the models was compared in transient and unsaturated cases. Results showed that increasing the amount of nano-clay from 0.25 to 1.0%, decreased seepage discharge by 19, 67, 89, and 97%, respectively, compared to the control model. Then, a numerical model of the earth dam was prepared using SEEP/W software and was validated with the experimental results. Results of measured and modeled phreatic lines indicated that the numerical model is accurate enough. Results of sensitivity analysis for blanket thickness showed that seepage rate in 0.5% nano-clay model was 9.46 × 10−6, 8.93 × 10−6, and 8.01 × 10−6 m3/s and in 1.0% nano-clay model was 2.1 × 10−6, 1.44 × 10−6, and 7.80 × 10−7 m3/s for 3, 5, and 10 cm blankets, respectively. In general, using a blanket with small amount of nano-clay on the reservoir side of the earth dam could alleviate seepage problems.


Hydraulic conductivity Montmorillonite nano-clay Seepage Sandy soil Earth dam 


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Hydraulic StructuresSemnan UniversitySemnanIran
  2. 2.Department of IrrigationSari Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources UniversitySariIran
  3. 3.Faculty of Civil EngineeringBabol University of TechnologyBabolIran

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