Mechanical behavior of rockfill materials - Application to concrete face rockfill dams

Abstract : The concrete face rockfill dam (CFRD) is a type of dam widely constructed nowadays. The design “rules“ for this type of dam have remained totally empirical. During the last decade, several high CFRDs have experienced the cracking of the concrete face during first reservoir impounding. This shows the limitations of the current empirical state of practice. It is important to understand the different physical mechanisms leading to these problems, especially those concerning the mechanical behavior of rockfill materials. Looking for answers to this problem, this thesis starts by a bibliographic research which shows that particles breakage is an important issue on the mechanical behavior of rockfills. The particles breakage phenomenon is affected by the characteristics of individual particles, the packing conditions of the assembly and the imposed mechanical solicitations. Once the factors affecting particles breakage have been identified, we study the constitutive models that have introduced the particles breakage phenomena. Most of them reduce the influence of the different factors to a couple of parameters, which are not easily identifiable through current laboratory tests. One constitutive model proposed on a thermodynamic framework has been retained for a more detailed analysis. This analysis leads to two main topics of interest: i) the description of the grain-size distribution due to particles breakage, and ii) the relationship between dissipation of energy and particles breakage. Concerning the first topic, a probabilistic model is proposed to describe the evolution of particles breakage and the variation of the grain-size distribution curve. This model takes into account the dependency of breakage probability with particles size. The comparison between model response and laboratory experiences shows good agreement for the variation of the grain-size distribution curves.Concerning the relationship between dissipation of energy by friction and particles breakage, several drained triaxial tests have been studied thermodynamically on a plot called “input/output power” of the system (soil sample). On this plot, we study the dissipative behavior without particles breakage, which is characterized by a straight line. Materials experiencing particles breakage show a different form. Therefore this plot allows identifying the difference between the dissipated energy of materials with and without particles breakage. This difference is associated to the particles breakage phenomena. Several conclusions and future works are proposed at this point related to the description of the mechanical behavior of rockfills.A direct consequence of the dependency of particles breakage on the particles size is the existence of a size-scale effect. A theory recently proposed for the shear-strength envelope has been validated for the stress-strain relationships. This allows estimating the stress-strain response of a material with very coarse particles from a material with reduced grain-size distribution.Finally, some recommendations to the current practice of CFRDs design are proposed, based on analyses with finite element models.
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Other. Ecole Centrale Paris, 2011. English. <NNT : 2011ECAP0018>
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Submitted on : Tuesday, September 6, 2011 - 3:58:47 PM
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Cristian Julian Nieto Gamboa. Mechanical behavior of rockfill materials - Application to concrete face rockfill dams. Other. Ecole Centrale Paris, 2011. English. <NNT : 2011ECAP0018>. <tel-00619604>



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