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Published in: Geotechnical and Geological Engineering 6/2012

01-12-2012 | Technical Note

Erosion and Drainage Well Blowout in the Foundation of the Plavinas Powerhouse: Case History

Author: Sophie Messerklinger

Published in: Geotechnical and Geological Engineering | Issue 6/2012

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Abstract

The Plavinas run-off river scheme in Latvia is founded on fine-grained deposits with artesian aquifers. These aquifers are drained with free flowing wells to assure the stability of the structures. In March 1979, one of these wells suddenly discharged high amounts of solids together with the drainage water. After a few days the water discharge stopped, the artesian pressures in the foundation increased and dirty water flew from the bottom of the tailrace channel area. Foundation failure could be mitigated by turning piezometers into free flowing relief wells. However, it was a critical situation for the powerhouse and caused significant permanent displacements of the concrete structures. A root-cause analysis was performed which is presented in this paper. It was found that caverns at the interface of alluvial and fine-grained deposits formed due to erosion of the fine fractions of the alluvium through the drainage wells. Such a cavern collapsed which caused the well blowout and the plugging of the drainage well resulting in increasing pore water pressures and local liquefaction of the powerhouse foundation.
Footnotes
1
The chronology is summarized from Šnore (2000) who compiled the observation made by I. Šakars, member of the technical staff at PHPP during that time period.
 
2
For concrete dams; for embankment dams the establishment of seepage paths through the structure are equally significant.
 
3
The nomenclature “underconsolidated” is used for soil zones where the pore water pressure exceeds the hydrostatic pressure, independent whether this pressure state is induced by loading of low permeable soils or by artesian aquifers.
 
4
At this stage one would argue for the installation of more effective filters. This was tried several times already during construction period with numerous different filter designs (see Zaretski and Karabayev 1998) and always led to significant reduced water discharge and hence ineffective drainage.
 
Literature
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Metadata
Title
Erosion and Drainage Well Blowout in the Foundation of the Plavinas Powerhouse: Case History
Author
Sophie Messerklinger
Publication date
01-12-2012
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Published in
Geotechnical and Geological Engineering / Issue 6/2012
Print ISSN: 0960-3182
Electronic ISSN: 1573-1529
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10706-012-9551-0