Advantages & Disadvantages of Earth Dams

The dams which are built of rock, gravel, sand, silt or clay in various combinations by placing, rolling or tamping these materials, are called Earth Dams or Non-rigid Dams.

Advantages of Earth Dams

In spite of the structural incompressibity of earth and water, many earth dams have been constructed with various types of earth and rock with stable conditions. The main advantages of earth dams are as follow:

1. Availability of Earth Materials

Earth is readily available in most parts of the world close to possible dam sites. Now a days the knowledge of soil mechanics has further enhanced the chances to make unstable earth dam as stable.

2. Easy Handling of Earth

Earth can be excavated by hand, transported in baskets and compacted with cattles walking over it. In suitable situation, earth can be handled and moved with latest machinery.

3. Foundation Condition

Earth dams are suited to the sites where a masonry dam cannot be used for structural reasons. These dams can be constructed even on compressible foundations. The intensity of foundation stress due to earth is less than that due to solid masonry. The horizontal water pressure on the dams is distributed over greater area because of greater base width and hence, the danger of sliding on a weak foundation is minimized. The greater width of dam foundation also minimizes the leakage through the foundation beneath the dam.

4. Cost of Construction

The most important advantage of an earth dam compared to masonry dam, is its lesser cost. It has been observed that the total cost of an earth dam, is roughly one-half of a concrete dam.

Disadvantages of Earth Dams

However, the earth dams possess the following disadvantages.

  1. Non-availability of the materials at or near the dam site.
  2. Greater maintenance cost as compared to a good concrete dam.
  3. Earthen dams are unsuitable for spillways.
One Comment

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.