1887
Volume 20, Issue 4
  • ISSN: 1569-4445
  • E-ISSN: 1873-0604
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Abstract

ABSTRACT

Earth dams are structures used worldwide for water management. Their failure over time is notably due to water seepage generating internal erosion. There is a growing need to detect the processes at work as early as possible. This study presents a controlled laboratory experiment aimed at detecting and monitoring water seepage into a soil sample. The experiment was monitored with electrical resistivity tomography, velocimeters and video recording. The video recording of the downstream side of the soil sample shows successive episodes of mass movements associated with a progressive water flow increase. The electrical resistivity tomography, limited by a low temporal resolution, shows an evolution of the resistivity in agreement with the evolution of the soil sample (e.g., saturation and mass movements), but with strong limitations regarding the robustness of the results. The continuous seismic recording reveals extra rupture episodes that occur inside the volume of the soil sample, which were not recorded by the video. Their distribution in time and energy illustrates strongly nonlinear changes in the soil sample, with several phases of acceleration. A controlled source monitoring using external repetitive events allows probing the medium with an enhanced temporal resolution compared to electrical resistivity tomography. The apparent seismic velocity of the soil sample reveals a nonlinear decrease, high at the beginning of the experiment, and then stalled until the different mass movements enlarge the amount of water inside the sample along with the water flow. The different techniques used, especially seismic monitoring, describe a complex and strongly nonlinear process of internal erosion centred around the coupling between water flow and internal damage. Finally, these findings suggest that seismic methods could be able to distinguish the four different phases of internal erosion (namely, initiation, continuation, progression and failure) discussed in the geotechnical literature.

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2022-07-13
2022-08-18
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