Dams and underground works


Learning fundamental concepts related to geotechnical works in the context of dams and underground works, particularly regarding the management of geotechnical studies, geotechnical modeling of ground behaviour, types of treatments frequently used, construction methods and technical support on site; furthermore, aspects related to the identification of the main geotechnical hazard related to these geotechnical works are also introduced.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Ana Paula Fernandes da Silva, Pedro Calé da Cunha Lamas


Weekly - 5

Total - 72

Teaching language



The students must attend at least to one third of the classes, except if they are enrolled under a special status.


FELL, R.; MacGREGOR, P.;  STAPLEDON. D. & Bell, G. (2014) - Geotechnical engineering of dams. Taylor and Francis, ISBN-13: 978-0415364409.

KOLIMBAS, D. (2008) - Tunnelling and tunnel mechanics, A rational approach to tunneling. Berlin: Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-3+540-25196-5.

VALLEJO, L. I. González de, & FERRER, M. (2011) - Geological Engineering. CRC Press Balkema Group, 678 pp.

WAHLSTROM, E. E. (1973) – Tunnelling in rock. Elsevier, Amsterdam, Developments in Geotechnical Engineering, nº 3.

WAHLSTROM, E. E. (1974) – Dams, dam foundations and reservoir sites. Elsevier, Amsterdam, Developments in Geotechnical  Engineering, nº 6.

Teaching method

The teaching, supported in the use of multimedia projections and e-learning methods (Moodle program), embrace theoretical and practical lessons, namely with critical review of geotechnical projects and the execution of site investigation plans and geotechnical zoning, complemented by seminaries (at least four) with specialists on the geotechnical works addressed.

Evaluation method

The evaluation will have a continuous component and includes two tests - T (practical and theoretical) and a written thematic work (W), including its oral presentation.

Final grade:  0,8.[(T1+T2)/2] + 0, 2.(W) = 20 values.

Subject matter

Dams: purposes; appurtenant structures; types; accidents. Mechanical behaviour; selection and main problems to access: geology, geomorphology, permeability, strength, deformability, uplift stresses, piping and construction materials. Characteristics of various types of ground. Site investigation (SI) and associated costs. Construction phase: processes and technical assistance (TA). Underground works - types and intrinsic singularities.  Associated difficulties of SI studies: the influence of the physical surroundings, overburden, size and geological structure on the excavation stability and on the pressure on support. Evaluation of the hydrogeological conditions. SI and associated costs. Construction methods - mechanical (special requirements and special requirements) and drill & blast; work cycles; special reference to Madrid, NATM/SEM and Cut & Cover methods. Dimensioning of supports. TA. Introduction to geotechnical risk management.


Programs where the course is taught: