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Do large dams have a standard design?

  1. Aug 23, 2007 #1
    Do large dams have a standard design, like that of horizontal and vertical curvatures (such as width vs. depth)?
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  3. Aug 24, 2007 #2


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    Good question. I have no idea. I'll have to see if I can hunt that down too.

    I would venture a guess that those two features would be the only two things that would be standard since the majority of the dam is specific to where it is located, i.e. how it is tied into the surrounding landscape, etc...
  4. Aug 24, 2007 #3


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    I read a news feature article on dam construction in the UK recently, following the recent serious floods when a major road route was closed for several days because of danger of a dam bursting - though that potential disaster was prevented.

    As Fred Garvin said, every dam is in a unique location, so the design has to take account of that. The geology at the sides of the dam and the shape of the valley makes every design unique. To save cost, as much construction material as possible will be used from the local site and that can determine the basic type of dam - e.g. "high-tech" thin curved reinforced-concrete structure anchored into strong rock either side, a "low tech" straight wall with a stone facing and a large backing ramp of clay covered with plants to stop it eroding, or whatever)
  5. Aug 24, 2007 #4
    It is these "high tech" dams that I direct my question to.
  6. Aug 29, 2007 #5


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    Dams like Hoover dam, build in a gorge or narrow canyon, can be built curved laterally so that the rock walls can provide support, in addition to the thick back. Dams built in areas without such support are straight, and must have less height (usual case IIRC) and/or a broader base, or a different (smaller) height to base ratio.

    For arch dam structure, see - http://simscience.org/cracks/intermediate/arch_anat1.html
    More stats - http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/dams/nv10122.htm [Broken]

    See also Glen Canyon Dam (thick arch) - http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/dams/az10307.htm [Broken]

    For other types - see http://simscience.org/cracks/intermediate/dam_types1.html

    Grand Coulee Dam (Concrete gravity) - http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/dams/wa00262.htm [Broken]

    http://www.usbr.gov/dataweb/dams/ [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  7. Aug 29, 2007 #6
    Many are beautiful structures. They are actually dynamic entities as well. Are they the largest integral, man made structures? Thank you for your research efforts, Astronuc.
  8. Aug 29, 2007 #7


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    IIRC, the Great Wall of China is the largest integral structure, and dams are probably right behind it. The Three Gorges Dam is now the largest dam in the world.

    Well there are large excavations like open pit mines and the Suez Canal, but those are not really structures.

    http://www.worldwindcentral.com/hotspots/index.php?cat=14 [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
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