Publication Abstract

Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference on Deep Foundations, 2014, Atlanta, GA, USA, (DFI)

Deep Drilling at Mica Dam, British Columbia
Jason K. Braund-Read, EIT and Megan R. Sheffer, Ph.D., P.Eng., BC Hydro, Douglas G. Baker, P.Geo, RST Instruments Ltd.

Mica Dam, owned by British Columbia Hydro, is an 820 ft high earthfill embankment dam that was completed in 1973. The dam consists of a thin central impervious till core supported by upstream and downstream compacted sand, gravel and cobble shell zones, founded on bedrock and valley bottom alluvium deposits. In 2012, a project was started to install new piezometric instrumentation within the damís foundation and downstream shell zone. Deep drilling in large embankment dams is very difficult and requires careful planning to select a methodology capable of reaching the target locations, while ensuring that no damage is done to the surrounding dam fill zones. At Mica Dam, the drilling could only be carried out from the Dam Crest and drillholes had to be carefully oriented to avoid intersecting any existing dam instrumentation. The drilling work therefore required angled drillholes, at depths of up to 855 ft, through heavily compacted sands, gravels and cobbles, and to significant depths below the standing water table. During the planning stages for the Project, in early 2013, the preferred drilling method was selected and a drilling contractor was engaged for the drilling work. Critical dam safety concerns were identified and addressed during the design stage of the Project with the drilling contractor, so that risk mitigation measures and response plans could be effectively developed. This paper explains how background information and prior drilling experience influenced the final design and implementation of the drilling techniques used in 2013 to successfully drill the deep holes and carry out the piezometer installations in Mica Dam. Drilling procedures, instrumentation design and installation methods, as well as risk mitigation measures, are discussed.

 article #2005; publication #1011 (AM-2014)