Pells Sullivan Meynink

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Industry-leading analysis and insight in geotechnical and water-related aspects of earth, rock and embankment dams and dam safety.

Dam services include:

  • Site selection
  • Design and construction
  • Dam foundation design and assessment
  • Dam break studies
  • Spillway and outlet design
  • Specialist spillway scour services
  • Geotechnical and hydrologic assessments
  • Embankment design, material selection and specification
  • Construction supervision and risk assessments
  • Analyses including numerical stability, 2D and 3D, seepage, and computational fluid dynamics.


Earth and rock embankment dams

PSM provides industry-leading methods of earth and rock embankment dams analysis coupled with over 20 years of practical insight and experience.

Rigorous risk assessment failure modes include:

  • Seepage
  • Piping
  • Overtopping
  • Scour and erosion
  • Slope stability
  • Rapid drawdown
  • Numerical modelling of crack propagation.

earth and rock embankment dams analysis

Dam foundations

We provide comprehensive analysis of rock mass characteristics and behaviour using Abaqus, FLAC3D, 3DEC, Scaled Boundary Finite Element Method (SBFEM), 2D and 3D finite element modelling of rock.

Services include:

  • Linear and non-linear deformation
  • Discrete or stochastically generated structures
  • Stress history
  • Groundwater pressures
  • Crack propagation
  • Creep and strain softening.

rock mass characteristics and behaviour 3d modelling

Tailings dams

We offer review, design, construction, operation and closure of tailings and other industrial dams.

Services include:

  • Site investigation and testing
  • Material selection
  • Storage cut, fill and volume determination
  • Water balance and hydrological design
  • Embankment design to ANCOLD and other guidelines
  • Industrial dams for the storage of special fluids such as caustic soda
  • In-pit and underground storage design
  • Capping design, construction and monitoring
  • Use of liners such as clay or geosynthetics
  • Operations manuals to achieve high strength, low emissions or reduced closure costs.

We have extensive experience with discharge systems, spillways, underdrainage and decant systems.

Our full range of construction services includes:

  • Earthworks specification
  • Specification testing
  • Design monitoring
  • Sedimentation and consolidation testing
  • Construction supervision
  • Certification
  • Reporting to meet regulator requirements.

industrial dams reviews

Dam seepage

We assess dam stability using seepage analysis of leak discharges through embankments, low velocities and pore pressure.

For steady or transient flows, we use coupled modelling in both 2D and 3D, using Geostudio (Seep/w; Sigma/w; Slope/w); RS2; RS3, FEFLOW and Abaqus software.

dam seepage 2d modelling

Hydrology and hydraulics for dams

We prepare detailed hydrological and hydraulics studies. We assess:

  • Rainfall and runoff taking account of long-term inflow and seepage or evaporation loss patterns for reservoir sizing or yield analysis
  • Historical or design runoff events for spillway capacity design
  • Risk of dam overtopping
  • Design of intakes, spillways and outlets and specialist hydraulic structures
  • Specialist assessment of scour and erosion.

Depending on the nature and complexity of the problem, we apply first-principle hand calculations as well as more complex numerical analysis (including 3D CFD modelling) or scale physical modelling techniques.

dams hydrological and hydraulics studies

Spillway scour and erosion

Our sophisticated scour-prediction tools combine rock mass modelling with hydraulic models to assess spillway erosion.

Setting an industry benchmark, PSM developed these tools from Dr Steven Pells’ 2016 research into erosion (scour) risk in unlined spillways at over 30 large dam spillways.

rock mass modelling with hydraulic models spillways

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