Earth Works


The student should be able to:

1.identify different types of embankments, depending on its constitution and purpose;

2.know how to design some retaining structures associated to embankments (terramesh, reinforced soil, etc.); embankment dams – identifying design scenarios and solutions: fill zoning, stability analysis with geoslope program

4. study seepage, filters and upstream protection;

5.define trial embankments and construction control programs;

6.knowing different monitoring equipments and their application

7. use Plaxis to do stress-strain analysis during different life periods of an earth dam.


General characterization





Responsible teacher

Armando Manuel Sequeira Nunes Antão, Maria Teresa Teles Grilo Santana


Weekly - 4

Total - 70

Teaching language



Available soon


R. Fell – Geotechnical Engineering of Dams, 1987.

Portuguese Regulation of Safety of Dams - Decreto-Lei 344/2007

J. Marcelino - Projecto, construção e exploração de pequenas barragens de aterro. Aspectos geotécnicos, 2008.

H. J. Priebe - The Design of vibroreplacement

Cedergren, H. R. - Seepage, Drainage and Flow Nets, Wiley, 1989.

Teaching method

The course consists of theoretical and practical classes. The lectures discuss different concepts to consider in the study of earth works, with application examples.

In the first half of the practical classes, there are problem sheets with a set of problems that the students must solve. In a second phase, the project of an embankment dam is developed, with which most of aspects treated in the theoretical courses should be treated in order to give the students a sense of how they connect these aspects and familiarize with the calculation software.

Continuous assessment is given by the presence and participation in lectures and the realization of the project work, in groups of 2 or 3 students. A test or exam is made, being the final score given by the test result and the discussion of the practical work.

Evaluation method

Um teste - teórico e prático (T) classificado para 20 val.

Um trabalho de projecto (P) classificado para 16 val.

Avaliação contínua nas aulas (A) - de 0 a 4 val

T - nota mínima de 8,0.

A aprovação será dada por 0,5T+0,5P+0,5A igual ou superior a 9,5.

Existirá ainda um exame de recurso para a componente T.

É necessária a presença em 2/3 do total das aulas.

Subject matter

  1. Types of embankments. Different types of requirements. Soil and rockfill. Dams and diques. Tailing dams.
  2. Soils classifications review: ASTM, AASHTO and  French classification.
  3. Road and rail embankments. 
  4. Reinforced soil.
  5. Soil parameter determination based on laboratory tests. Triaxial test.
  6. Filters
  7. Seepage, flow nets, permanent and transient flow. Drawdown.
  8. Seismic amplification, EC8.
  9. Compaction and compaction control. Trial embankments.
  10. Construtive methods and construction control.
  11. Design, construction and monitoring of embankment dams. Phenomena to be analysed. Portuguese laws for dams - RSB, NP, NOIB, NC.
  12. Borrow areas characterization.
  13. Freeboard and upstream slope protection for dams.
  14. Stability analysis. Calculation phases, EC7. 
  15. Deformability, stress-strain analysis. Commercial software: Plaxis.


Programs where the course is taught: