Published in Engineering Fracture Mechanics Vol. 35 (1-3), pp. 573-585, 1990
The paper presents a computational model for the analysis of large concrete gravity dams subjected to severe damage due to internal actions. It has been observed in several operating concrete dams that the combined effects of water intrusion and concrete expansion produce a time-advancing deteriorating process that may endanger the global stability of the construction. The present study was undertaken to simulate numerically the observed phenomena and to enable to predict future developments. Tensile cracking of the concrete is modelled using an elasticfracturing constitutive model. The model is able to simulate in a realistic manner the phenomena of primary and secondary crack initiation, elastic degradation, crack closing and reopening. The triggering of the volumetric expansion due to water intrusion is linked to the onset of cracking at each point, assuming that water enters the dam mostly through the cracks. Temperature and pore-water pressure effects are included using assumed distributions based on available field data. Construction joints are modelled using a frictional joint element, although a “constitutive alternative” is outlined. Close surveillance of the behaviour of a dam that presented this sort of problem was used to calibrate the numerical model and to confirm the obtained results.