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Soil treatment grant to lessen slope failures at local lakes' dam walls

News Release — 14 October 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Media contact: Herb Booth, (817) 272-7075, hbooth@uta.edu

ARLINGTON - Anyone who owns a home or business in the North Texas area knows how unstable the soil is. Cracks often occur in walls and ceilings. That soil expansion and contraction goes for the outdoors, too. The soil at Joe Pool Lake and Grapevine Lake dams has experienced those same cracks found in many, many North Texas homes.

Graduate student, Varagorn Puljan collecting field data from Joe Pool Lake dam test section.

Graduate student Varagorn Puljan collecting field data from Joe Pool Lake dam test section.

Anand Puppala knows how to research and develop solutions to fix those cracks in the dams, though. The University of Texas at Arlington Distinguished Teaching Professor in civil engineering won a five-year, $493,000 grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to study and shore up those cracks and related slope failures at two local dams.

"We used additives to help strengthen and reduce the shrinkage cracks in the soil at those locations," Puppala said. "We did the lab work and proved we can do it."

Puppala said now he and graduate students are treating the cracked soil and conducting long-term monitoring to measure how well the treatment has helped shore up the dams.

"We've used a combination of lime and polypropylene fibers to strengthen the soils. Only the top 18 inches of the surface soils need to be treated," Puppala said. The cracks along the Joe Pool Lake dam stretch for more than a quarter mile. Similar cracks can be seen at Grapevine Lake. "Strengthening the soil is much less expensive than annual repairs of those dams, which can cost millions of dollars."

"Millions of dollars in reconstruction expenses could ultimately be saved with this research and more U.S. Army Corps of Engineer districts are interested in this research which will open more research opportunities from the federal agency," Puppala said.

Researchers including post-doctoral fellow Bhaskar Chittoori, and graduate students Pulijan Varagorn and Le Minh are assisting in the research. Jose Hernandez, interim chief of the geotechnical section in Fort Worth, is the project director for the research.

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