Earthquake-induced Deformations of Earth Dams
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Earthquake-induced Deformations of Earth Dams
Earthquake-induced Deformations of Earth Dams

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Over the last four decades, many man-made earth-structures have undergone catastrophic failures due
to earthquake-induced liquefaction. Eleven tailings dams failed during and after the 28 March 1965
Chilean earthquake. The most devastating were the failures of El-Cobre dams which destroyed part of
the El-Cobre town and claimed more than 200 lives (Dobry and Alvarez, 1967). Similar failures also
occurred in Japan in 1978. Two tailings dams associated with the Mochikoshi gold mine failed causing
a release of large volume of tailings materials.
On 9 February 1971, an earthquake of magnitude 6.6 on the Richter scale hit the San Fernando Valley,
California. One of the major effects of this earthquake was the damage inflicted on the Lower and the
Upper Sand Fernando Dams due to liquefaction induced deformations (Seed et al., 1973). Liquefaction
of the hydraulic fill materials within the body of the dam caused a flow slide to occur on the upstream
part of the Lower Dam, leaving only about 1.5m of freeboard . In the Upper Dam, the slide
movements resulting from liquefaction of the hydraulic fill within the dam were not as severe as those
in the Lower Dam. However, the crest of the dam moved about a.5m downstream and settled about
0.8m. Fortunately in both cases, no water was released from the reservoir .

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