An Engineering Geological Appraisal of the Leakage Problem in Dora-1 Earthen Dam, Tigray: Implications for its Stability


  • Gebremedhin Berhane Mekelle University Author
  • Yowhans Birhanu Adigrat University Author


Construction material, Embankment dam, Site investigations, Ethiopia


Leakage is one of the major problems facing the functionality and sustainability of dams. It occurs through the embankment body, reservoir, foundation, and abutments. This study was conducted to identify the main causes of the leakage problem at the Dora-1 dam, located in the northern part of Ethiopia. It is an earthfill dam with a height of 43.5 m, crest length of 454 m, and reservoir capacity of 4.67 million cubic meters. Part of the embankment body was wet and swampy up to 20 m high from the ground due to leaking water. Geological investigation, laboratory test of the construction materials (including grain size analysis, specific gravity and water absorption, Atterberg limit, free swell, dispersion, permeability, and shear strength), and electrical resistivity investigation were used to identify and pinpoint the possible causes of the leakage problem. Results of the study show that the favorable geological features responsible for the occurrence of leakage include: (a) geological contact between sandstone and moderately to highly weathered basalt unit at the left abutment, (b) the gravelly sand deposit at the central foundation and (c) dyke outcrop at the river course within the reservoir running in the upstream-downstream direction. Results of laboratory tests for clay core show medium to high compressibility, good to poor workability, and semi-pervious to impervious permeability when compacted. The water absorption and the percentage finer of the filter material don’t satisfy the filter criteria and the shell material was found to be semi-previous. The anomalous in the resistivity survey result confirms the situation. Slope stability analysis of the embankment showed instability conditions at full reservoir level. Close follow-up and a downstream stabilization structure, including rock and gravel support, were recommended.




How to Cite

An Engineering Geological Appraisal of the Leakage Problem in Dora-1 Earthen Dam, Tigray: Implications for its Stability. (2024). Momona Ethiopian Journal of Science (MEJS) , 15(2), 153-176.