Acta Geotechnica

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 243–254 | Cite as

Development of an empirical criterion for predicting the hydraulic fracturing in the core of earth dams

  • Ali GhanbariEmail author
  • Shima Shams Rad
Research Paper


In this research, based on the laboratory studies, a new empirical criterion was developed to predict the hydraulic fracturing pressure in the core of earth dams. To simulate the core condition in the laboratory, a special cell was designed and assembled based on advanced consolidation cell (Rowe cell). The hydraulic fracturing tests were performed in unconsolidated and unsaturated conditions on the materials of an under-construction dam and the results were used according to critical conditions in which the hydraulic fracturing is initiated in the embankment dams. It can be concluded that for fine-grained soils and also coarse-grained soils containing considerable percent of fine particle, the hydraulic fracturing initiation pressure is dependent on the minor principal stress of the soil and increase linearly with the increase in mentioned stress. In addition, an empirical equation is introduced to estimate the hydraulic fracturing initiation pressure based on shear-strength properties of the soil, and also the effect of compaction energy on the pressure is discussed. Afterward, the numerical analysis has been carried out on the Madani Earth dam considering three types of soil for the core of the dam. Furthermore, by using several empirical criteria, the districts of the core which are susceptible to hydraulic fracturing were identified for each soil. Results of numerical study show that among three selected soils for the core of the dam, the CL which is susceptible to hydraulic fracturing is identified as critical soil and the GM-GC as the recommended one.


Clay Core material Earth dams Hydraulic fracturing Rowe cell 


  1. 1.
    BS 1377-6 (1990) Method of test for soils for civil engineering purposes. Consolidation and permeability tests in hydraulic cells with the pore pressure measurement. British standard institutionGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Fukushima S (1986) Hydraulic fracturing criterion in the core of fill dams. Rep Fujita Kogyo Tech Inst 22:131–136Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Ghanbari A (2003) Laboratory study of the hydraulic fracturing in the core of earth dams, PhD thesis, Amirkabir University of Technology, TehranGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Haimson BC (1968) Hydraulic fracturing in porous and nonporous rock and its potential for determining in situ stresses at great depth, PhD. Thesis, University of MinnesotaGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hassani AW, Singh B, Saini SS (1983) Experimental investigation of hydraulic fracturing. Indian J Power River Valley Dev 12:181–187Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Holcomb D, Rudnicki JW, Issen AK, Sternlof K (2007) Compaction localization in the Earth and the laboratory: state of the research and research directions. Acta Geotechnica 2(1):1–15Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Independent Panel to Review Cause of Teton Dam Failure (1976) Report to United States department of the interior and the State of Idaho on failure of Teton dam. United States Bureau of Reclamation, Denver, COGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Jaworski GW, Duncan JM, Seed HB (1981) Laboratory study of hydraulic fracturing. J Geotech Eng Div ASCE 107(6):713–732Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Kim H, Wangoner MP, Buttlar W (2009) Numerical fracture analysis on the specimen size dependency of asphalt concrete using a cohesive softening model. Constr Build Mater 23(5):2112–2120CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    KomakPanah A, Yanagisawa E (1989) Laboratory studies on hydraulic fracturing criteria in soil. Soils Found 29(4):14–22Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lo KY, Kaniaru K (1990) Hydraulic fracture in earth and rockfill dams. Can Geotech J 27(4):496–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Medeiros CH de AC, Moffat AIB (1996) A hydraulic fracturing test based on radial seepage in the Rowe consolidation cell. In: Advanced in site investigation practice. Thomas Telford, LondonGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Mhatch HK (1991) An experimental study of hydraulic fracture and erosion, Ph.D. thesis, City University, LondonGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Mori A, Tamura M (1987) Hydrofracturing pressure of cohesive soils. Soil Found Jpn Soc Soil Mech Found Eng 27(1):14–22Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Murdoch LC (1993) Hydraulic fracturing of soil during laboratory experiments: methods and observations. Geotechnique 43(2):255–265CrossRefMathSciNetGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Nobari ES, Lee KL, Duncan JM (1973) Hydraulic fracturing in zoned earth and Rockfill dams, contract report TE-73-1. U.S. Army engineers waterways experimental station, Vickburg MSGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Satoh H, Yamaguchi Y (2008) Laboratory hydraulic fracturing tests for core materials using large size hollow cylindrical specimens. In: The 1st international symposium on Rockfill Dams, Chengdu, ChinaGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Shams Rad S (2010) Numerical study of the hydraulic fracturing in the core of earth dams, MSc thesis, Tarbiat Moallem University, TehranGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Sherard JL (1986) Hydraulic fracturing in embankment dam. J Geotech Geoenviron Eng ASCE 112(10):905–927CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Wang SY, Sun L, Au ASK, Yang TH, Tang CA (2009) 2D-numerical analysis of hydraulic fracturing in heterogeneous geo-materials. Constr Build Mater 23(6):2196–2206CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Wood DM, Maeda K (2008) Changing grading of soil: effect on critical states. Acta Geotech 3(1):3–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Yanagisawa E, KomakPanah A (1994) Two dimensional study of hydraulic fracturing criteria cohesive soil. Soil Found 34(1):1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EngineeringKharazmi (Tarbiat Moallem) UniversityTehranIslamic Republic of Iran

Personalised recommendations