Investigating the Earth Fill Embankment of the Lotsane Dam for Internal Defects Using Time-lapse Resistivity Imaging and Frequency Domain Electromagnetics

Bokani Nthaba, Elisha M. Shemang, Eliot A. Atekwana, Ame T. Selepeng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

We investigated the internal structure of the Lotsane Dam for zones that may be prone to seepage and internal erosion using the electrical resistivity imaging (ERI) and the frequency domain electromagnetic (FDEM) methods. Time-lapse ERI measurements were also made for a period of 8 months in order to monitor the temporal evolution of defective zones. Results from both the FDEM and ERI measurements show two main layers. The first is an upper conductive layer varying in thickness from 10 to 25 m which is related to the clay core embankment. Situated beneath this upper conductive layer is a highly resistive crystalline basement on which the dam was founded. Furthermore, the ERI and FDEM measurements revealed the presence of fractures and possible zones of weakness within the dam foundation. Time-lapse ERI measurements revealed resistivity increases in the observed possible defective zones, including proximal to the spillway and at the embankment-foundation interface. The long-term resistivity variation may be indicating change in material properties in those portions of the dam, and may evolve to destabilize the structural integrity of the dam and or develop into preferential seepage pathways with time. The identified anomalous zones are good indicators that the embankment integrity is at risk and we suggest continuous geophysical monitoring of Lotsane Dam structure in order to ensure dam safety and integrity on the long term.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-339
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Environmental and Engineering Geophysics
Volume25
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Geophysics

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