Factor and cluster analyses of water chemistry in and around a large rockfill dam: Implications for water leakage

Jin Yong Lee, Hyoung Soo Kim, Seong Taek Yun, Jang Soon Kwon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Based on water chemistry data, a rockfill dam in South Korea was investigated to identify major parts of substantial dam water leakage. Sinkholes in the dam crest and abnormal water leakage through the dam were observed since the first impounding of the dam. Previous investigations, including observational drillings, hydraulic tests, geophysical surveys, and tracer tests, revealed the development of a high permeability zone in the clay core and an abnormally high phreatic line zone in the left embankment. Sequential tracer tests provided further evidence of locations of preference and rapid water leakage pathways. In this study, we examined the usefulness of water chemistry data to confirm previous findings of water leakage. Factor analysis of the water chemistry data revealed major processes controlling the chemical composition, which include the wash-out and successive dissolution of fill materials in the dam interior, interaction between percolating water and dam core materials, and contamination of seeping water by grouting materials and previous tracer tests. Distinct spatial distribution of similar chemical groups was illustrated by cluster analysis and confirmed the location of major water leakage at the left abutment adjoining the spillway.

Original languageEnglish
Article number012909QGT
Pages (from-to)1254-1263
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Geotechnical and Geoenvironmental Engineering
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Sept


  • Chemical properties
  • Dams, Rockfill
  • Groundwater
  • Korea, South
  • Leakage
  • Sinkholes
  • Statistics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Environmental Science(all)


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