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Effects of Burrowing Animals on Seepage Behavior of Earthen Dams

IWRA World Water Congress 2017 - Cancun Mexico
5. Water ecosystems and physical regimes
Author(s): Melih Calamak
Gizem Bilgin
Halit Demirkapu
Asli Kobal

Melih Calamak
TED University
melih.calamak@tedu.edu.tr
Gizem Bilgin
TED University
gizem.bilgin@tedu.edu.tr
Halit Demirkapu
TED University
halit.demirkapu@tedu.edu.tr
Asli Kobal
TED University
asli.kobal@tedu.edu.tr


Keyword(s): Earth-fill dams, rodent animals, burrows, seepage, phreatic surface
Article: Poster:

Abstract

Earthen dams are made of natural soils and they are natural habitats for rodent animals. These type of dams may be burrowed by rodents from the soil surface or below the water surface. The dig tunnels and holes can extend into the dam body up to couple of meters. This can affect the integrity, stability and the performance of the structure. Large cavities can cause preferential flow paths and increased seepage rates through the body which may result in piping. Besides, cavities may collapse after a heavy rain or snow melt which may result in settlements or decreased slope stabilities. This study investigates how seepage behavior of earthen dams are affected by animal burrows. To this end, a typical earthen dam is analyzed using a finite element software for the seepage passing through its body with and without burrows. The dig tunnels of various rodents, such as muskrat, beaver, gopher, badger, etc. are considered since their burrow shapes and locations are different in the dam body. The changes in the seepage rate, phreatic surface and pore water pressures are investigated for different types of animals. The findings of the study showed that the animal burrows in embankments have considerable effects on the profile of the phreatic surface and the pore water pressures. 

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