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Corps of Engineers Funds Embankment Stability Study

December 20, 2007

The Fort Worth District office of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has awarded a two-year, $178,000 grant to the Civil & Environmental Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Arlington to develop treatment methods to mitigate soil cracking on slopes and embankments. The Corps is specifically interested in stopping soil slipping from dam faces.

Civil Engineering Professor Anand Puppala is leading the study. He and his team recently completed field work on the dam at Joe Pool Lake, which spans the southern sections of Dallas and Tarrant counties. Instrumentation has been placed on the dam to record moisture content of the soil.

Too wet and too dry soils both cause problems for embankments. The too dry soils typical for Texas summers result in desiccation cracking, often two-to-three feet in depth. When rain does fall, water penetrates too deeply into the embankment. Too wet soils are heavier than normal and may exceed the slope’s ability to remain in place. The Corps recently had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to rehabilitate the dam face at Lake Grapevine caused by soil slippage.

“We’re going to investigate four methods to improve the soil,” said Dr. Puppala. “Straight lime, biosolid compost, and two mixtures of lime and polypropylene fibers. The biosolid compost method we created for the Texas Department of Transportation was very successful and we’re eager to test it on a large structure such as a dam.”

Dr. Puppala is being assisted by Post Doctoral Research Associate Sireesh Saride and doctoral student Dronamraju Venky. Corps of Engineers Fort Worth District Geotechnical Section chief Les Perrin and geotechnical engineer Ken McClesky will serve as project supervisors.