Dam Monitoring is included in the more general Structural Health Monitoring (SHM) and includes the typical parameters of structural deterioration (strain, stress state, inclination, displacements, cracking, dam deformation monitoring); post construction it is carried out to assess the soundness, safety, and overall stability of the dam. Total movements as well as relative movements between zones of an embankment and its foundation may also need to be monitored because design error, geotechnical stability, maintenance issues, construction material unreliability are some of the reasons why a dam can fail. But to be a 360-degrees service, it can be extended to both external environmental parameters (wind, temperature, humidity, turbidity) and geotechnical measurements (landslides, groundwater pressure, water level, flow, leakage, seismic events).
Preventing flooding and water shortages by forecasting the future
Causes of structural failure
Dams are considered complex engineering works, and it is reasonable to accept, at certain times, that the behavior verified in the field is not exactly what is expected in the project.
The identification of the potential failure modes of earth and rock dams converges on three general categories:
- Hydraulic failures: these include exceeding the maximum water level and subsequent external erosion due to a spillway with insufficient discharge capacity or even due to operational errors.
- Mass movements due to exceptional loads (floods / earth cracks) given, for example, by instability of the slope, deformations, liquefaction of the soil, instability of the foundations.
- Internal erosion and erosion of soils or foundation joints.
Iot technology systems to prevent failure
Dam failures are monitored and prevented by using a monitoring system used on a regular basis, with high precision and without the physical presence of crew members. Dams monitoring systems are commonly composed of smart sensors, data acquisition systems (data logger), data transfer systems, data management systems, and data analysis. The analysis of collected data can provide essential information for the correct interpretation of the structural general status of the dam (dam leakage, causes of dam failure, water level), especially for structures of particular complexity where 24/7 monitoring is strongly recommended.
IoT systems are used for the ability to manage a large amount of data, to provide alarms with the aim of preventing floods and excessive increases in the water level in water basins; data obtained by remotely monitoring system sets the foundation towards effective predictive maintenance approaches.