The importance of soil composition for the construction of a hydroelectric dam


The location of a hydroelectric dam is very important in its geological aspect that is in other words the soil composition. Indeed, depending on location, soil composition is not the same everywhere. Constructing  a hydroelectric dam requires that the rocks that are both below the dam itself and the banks that hold a dam arch structures, are waterproof and strong enough to ensure the stability of the structure. Thus, there have already been accidents in the USA where the water had seeped under the dam. This caused a mechanical lifting and the dam has finally brooked under the pressure of the water. This phenomenon, called “coup du renard,” has killed thousands of people in the world. In France, for example we can take the Fréjus’s dam Fréjus which yielded in 1959. The left wall of the dam had been destroyed due to the weakening of the bearing rocks. The destruction of the dam resulted in the death of 423 people. Therefore, do not neglect the study of soil composition before the implantation of a dam. Last point to consider here, there is a geomorphological constraint. The latter refers to the morphology that is to say the shape taken by the location. As far as the efficiency of the dam is concerned, it is better to build the dam in a narrow canyon or what is called a bottleneck.

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