Environmental Earth Sciences

, 77:757 | Cite as

Criteria for the design of embankment dams founded on gypsiferous geological formations

  • C. M. BaenaEmail author
  • M. Á. Toledo
Original Article


This article sets criteria for selecting the typology of embankment dam and the elements for the foundation to be impervious enough (blanket, cutoff…) when the dam site contains disseminated gypsum particles in limited quantities (less than 40%) and the flow is interstitial. Numerical modeling analysis of the soluble material dissolution of a dam foundation includes two coupled processes: seepage and dissolution. In a previous manuscript, the mathematical model that simulates the progress of the dissolution of the gypsum particles in the foundation was implemented in the code DISOLUCION2D, also validated by experimental work. This code simulates the advance of the dissolution front (foundation area where the dissolution of soluble particles is taking place) at each time step, based on the flow velocities obtained from the seepage flow net calculation. The dissolution process progressively increases the permeability of the foundation and therefore the flow rate under the dam, jeopardising in some cases the safety of the dam. Based on the validated code, a study covering 140 cases of dams and their foundations was carried out. From the relevant data for each dam site (height, thickness of the gypsiferous layer, gypsum percentage of the layer) and the prescribed criteria for maximum permissible flow rate or maximum flow rate increase, the various type sections of the dam that satisfy the required conditions can be identified. From among these, the dam designer will be able to choose the optimal solution, taking into consideration the particular characteristics of the project (available materials, economic costs...).


Dissolution Seepage Dam Gypsum Soluble foundation Permeability Blanket Cutoff 

List of symbols


Area exposed to dissolution (L2)


Acceleration factor


Concentration (M/L3)


Concentration of saturation (M/L3)


Gypsiferous layer thickness (L)


Dam height (L)


Hydraulic gradient


Permeability coefficient (L/T)


Dissolution rate constant (L/T), usually K in bibliography


Initial permeability coefficient of the gypsiferous layer (L/T)


Initial permeability coefficient of the non-gypsiferous layer (L/T)


Permeability coefficient after dissolution of the gypsiferous layer (L/T)


Mass of soluble solid (M)




Initial porosity


Depth of the cutoff (L)


Volumetric flow rate (L3/T)


Initial flow rate (L3/T)


Dimensionless flow rate


Flow rate for complete dissolution (L3/T)


Flow rate of arrival downstream (L3/T)


Flow rate of complete enclosure (L3/T)


Flow after dissolution (L3/T)


Time (T)


Dimensionless time


Time of arrival at downstream (T)


Time of complete enclosure (T)


Time for constant u (T)


Solution front velocity (L/T)


Seepage velocity (L/T)


Mass per unit volume of soluble particle (M/L3)


Percentage in volume of soluble material



We wish to show our appreciation to Anthony Noel James for his great contribution to soluble materials in civil engineering.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Jesús Granell Ingenieros Consultores, S.L.MadridSpain
  2. 2.Universidad Politécnica de MadridMadridSpain

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