Hydro-dam security

Water dating can contribute to accurate identification of anomalies in dam foundations, leading to successful grouting design and verification programmes.


Long term security of dams is critically dependant on control of seepage from the reservoir through the structure, foundations and abutments. The sources and seepage paths are a complex function of dam design and construction, local geology and the way in which pre-existing groundwater conditions have been modified by the dam impoundment.

Water dating, using tritium, CFCs and SF6, is one of the complementary methods (along with stable isotopes and temperature techniques) which can be used to discriminate between leakage flows from the surrounding groundwater (young and old) and those directly from the reservoir.


  • Morgenstern, U.; Read, S.A.L.; Newson, T.; Daughney, C.J. 2005 Isotope and chemical characterisation for understanding seepage pathways at Arapuni Dam, New Zealand.Abstracts / Asia Oceania Geosciences Society, 2005: 1 p. (abstract 58-HS-A3032) [http://www.asiaoceania.org/]