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About Dams

Back to buildingBuilding an embankment dam

Embankment dam in Iran

Masjed-e-Soleiman embankment dam
under construction in Iran

Embankment dams are constructed upwards in a series of thin layers. For each layer, the fill material is transported to the dam by trucks and dumped there. Then bulldozers are used to spread the material in a thin layer. The thickness of the layer depends on the material being used. Earthfill layers are about 300 mm thick and rockfill layers can be up to 1 metre thick. The layers are compacted down using rollers.

When the dam has a core, that is also constructed in layers to keep it at the same height as the rest of the dam.

Messochora Rockfill dam in GreeceThe reinforced concrete layer being placed on the upstream face of the Messochora rockfill dam in Greece.

Once the dam has been raised to its full height, a protective layer is formed on its upstream face. This layer protects the dam against damage by waves, and sometimes provides waterproofing too.