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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2015, Article ID 139586, 8 pages
Research Article

Collapse Modeling of a Masonry Arch Dam Using the Cohesive Interface Elements

State Key Laboratory of Hydroscience and Engineering, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

Received 11 February 2015; Revised 10 May 2015; Accepted 11 May 2015

Academic Editor: Evangelos J. Sapountzakis

Copyright © 2015 Jianwen Pan. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


A finite element (FE) approach with zero-thickness cohesive interface elements is presented to simulate collapse of continuum structures. The element removal technique merged with the general contact algorithm is adapted in the FE approach to achieve modeling for a transition from continua to discontinua, that is, fracture, fragmentation, and collapse. Collapse process of Meihua masonry arch dam, which is a famous disaster in dam engineering in China, is simulated and the failure mechanism is studied. The collapse process obtained from the presented procedure coincides with the field observation after the dam failure. The failure of Meihua arch dam can be attributed to reducing shear strength of the peripheral joint between the dam body and the concrete pedestal by daubing a layer of asphalt there. With low sliding resistance strength, the masonry dam body may slide upwards along the peripheral joint under hydrostatic pressure, leading to weakening of the arch action, fracturing, and final collapse of the dam.