KTA - Strategic geophysical assessment of Scottish reservoirs embankments

Project: Internally funded project

Project Details


The Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead quoted that in 2008 in Renfrewshire the Maich Fishery dam almost failed. It was not a regulated reservoir as it held less than 25,000 cubic metres of water. However, the near breach of the dam required the evacuation of properties downstream, the closure of public roads and the activation of emergency works to prevent an uncontrolled release of water. This even highlighted the need to make sure that Scotland's reservoirs are structurally sound, properly monitored and well maintained.
Very little information is known about the rate of erosion within reservoirs embankments. Likewise no robust methods have been developed to monitor the onset of fissures due to desiccation, erosion or animal burrows, other than excavated trial pits to inspect fissures directly. In practice, it can be difficult to detected fissuring only by visual observations, particularly if the surface vegetation is well developed. Even if cracking near the surface is observed, it is not be possible to determine the depth to which the cracking penetrates or internal erosion. At the moment no Geophysical method is deployed to assess Scottish reservoirs. This method could be innovative and could become a unique practice. Geo-electrical techniques are non invasive and can be used to measure the resistivity or the conductivity changes of a material in a natural environment. They can be implemented for embankments as non invasive methods to explore the layers of sand and clay materials composing them and their uniformity.
This project could strengthen the existing relationship with the Scottish government, SEPA and the local authorities and the Civil Engineering Department.
Effective start/end date1/09/111/09/12


  • risk assessment, geophysics


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