Gravity Dam


Gravity Dam

Gravity dams are one of the most common types of dams, often used for water storage, hydroelectric power generation, and flood control. Built solely from concrete or masonry, these massive structures rely on their own weight and the force of gravity to resist the pressure of water in a reservoir. From their ancient origins to their modern advancements, gravity dams have played a crucial role in developing and sustaining communities around the world. In this article, we will delve into the history, design, and engineering of gravity dams, exploring their impact on society and the environment.

Uses of Gravity Dam

A gravity dam, also known as a weight dam, is a structure built to withstand the force of water through its own weight and the force of gravity. It is one of the most commonly used types of dams in the world and has been in use for centuries. The construction technique for gravity dams has evolved over time, and advancements in technology have made it possible to build these dams to greater heights and with larger capacities.

The primary purpose of a gravity dam is to impound water and store it for various uses such as irrigation, hydropower generation, and flood control. Additionally, gravity dams serve as barriers to protect downstream areas from the destructive force of floods.

1. Water Storage: Gravity dams are designed to hold a large volume of water behind them. As water flows into the reservoir, the dam’s weight and the force of gravity prevent the water from flowing downstream. This stored water can then be used for various purposes, such as supplying water for domestic, industrial, and agricultural needs.

2. Hydropower Generation: Another essential function of gravity dams is to harness the power of flowing water to generate electricity. The high level of water stored behind the dam creates a significant amount of potential energy. This energy is then converted into kinetic energy as the water is released through turbines, producing clean and renewable electricity.

3. Flood Control: Gravity dams are also built to regulate the flow of water and prevent flooding in downstream areas. During periods of heavy rainfall, the dam’s floodgates can be opened to release the excess water gradually, preventing sudden and catastrophic flooding.

4. Irrigation: Gravity dams play a crucial role in agricultural irrigation by storing water and releasing it into canals and irrigation systems as needed. This helps in providing a reliable water supply for crops, especially during dry seasons.

5. Recreation: Many gravity dams have created large reservoirs that are popular for recreational activities like fishing, boating, and camping. These man-made lakes provide scenic and serene spots for people to unwind and enjoy nature.

See also  How Much Does It Cost to Tile a Shower?

In conclusion, gravity dams have various uses, ranging from water storage and hydropower generation to flood control and recreational activities. With their durability and ability to withstand large water pressures, they continue to play a vital role in providing essential services to communities around the world.

Types of Gravity Dam

Gravity Dam is a type of dam that is commonly used in civil engineering projects for water storage and flood control purposes. It is designed to resist the horizontal water pressure by its massive weight, hence the name “gravity” dam.

There are several types of gravity dam, and each one has its own unique features and applications. The most common types are:

1. Concrete Gravity Dam: This type of dam is constructed using concrete blocks or precast units. It is considered to be the strongest and most durable type of gravity dam. The concrete blocks are placed one on top of the other, creating a wide base at the bottom and a narrow top. This shape allows the weight of the dam to be distributed evenly, making it stable and able to withstand high water pressure.

2. Masonry Gravity Dam: Similar to the concrete gravity dam, the masonry gravity dam is built with individual blocks of stone, brick, or concrete. These blocks are held together by mortar, creating a solid wall. This type of dam is suitable for small to medium-sized bodies of water.

3. Earth or Rock-fill Gravity Dam: This type of dam is built by compacting layers of rock, soil, and clay. The weight of the soil holds back the water, making it an effective barrier. These dams are relatively cheaper and quicker to construct compared to concrete or masonry dams. They are also ideal for locations with limited construction materials.

4. Buttress Gravity Dam: The buttress dam is characterized by its triangular-shaped supports that anchor the dam to the ground. These supports, also known as buttresses, are built perpendicular to the main wall, providing additional stability against the water pressure. This type of dam is suitable for deep, narrow valleys where the bedrock is not strong enough to withstand the weight of a concrete dam.

5. Arch Gravity Dam: The Arch gravity dam is built curved in shape, like an arch. The curved shape allows the weight of the dam to be transferred to the abutments, making it ideal for locations with steep, narrow valleys. This type of dam is also visually appealing and is often used for recreational purposes.

In conclusion, gravity dams are an essential component in the field of civil engineering, providing sustainable water storage solutions and flood control. With various types of gravity dams available, engineers can choose the most suitable design for a specific project based on the site conditions and requirements.

See also  Introdction of Foundation Layout Plan and Process

Advantages of Gravity Dam

Gravity dams are a type of dam structure that uses its own weight and the force of gravity to resist the external forces of water pressure and erosion. They have been widely used in various geographies and have proven to be an effective solution for water control and management. Here are some key advantages of gravity dams:

1. Robust and Durable: Gravity dams are built to be heavy and strong, usually with concrete or masonry materials. They can withstand a considerable amount of external force and have a long lifespan, lasting up to centuries.

2. Cost-effective: Compared to other types of dams, such as arch dams or buttress dams, gravity dams are relatively less expensive to build. The materials used in their construction, such as concrete and rock fill, are readily available and affordable.

3. Low Maintenance: Due to their robust and durable construction, gravity dams experience very little wear and tear, making maintenance costs minimal. This makes them a cost-effective solution in the long run.

4. Suitable for Deep Gorges: Gravity dams can be constructed in deep gorges or valleys where the foundation rocks are strong enough to support the structure. This makes it possible to build them in remote and inaccessible areas, thus providing water storage and control in these areas.

5. Large Water Storage Capacity: Due to their heavy and massive structure, gravity dams can hold a large volume of water. This makes them ideal for use in major irrigation and flood control projects, providing a reliable source of water for agriculture, industries, and communities.

6. Environmentally Friendly: Gravity dams do not require the use of any turbines or generators to generate power, making them less disruptive to aquatic life and the ecosystem. They also do not cause any air or water pollution, making them a more environmentally friendly choice.

7. Simple Design and Construction: Gravity dams have a relatively simple design, making their construction process easier and faster. This reduces the time and cost involved in constructing them, making them an ideal option for emergency situations.

In conclusion, gravity dams offer numerous advantages, making them a preferred choice in water control and management projects. Their durability, low maintenance, large storage capacity, and cost-effectiveness make them an attractive option for engineers and project managers. With appropriate design and construction, gravity dams can provide a reliable and long-term solution for water management and contribute to the overall development of a region.

Disadvantages of Gravity Dam

1. Limited Placement Options: Gravity dams can only be built in narrow valleys with suitable rock formations. This limits their placement options and makes it challenging to find suitable locations for construction.

See also  Chain Surveying

2. Large Construction Costs: Due to the massive size and weight, constructing a gravity dam can be a costly affair. The high expenses involved in building the dam can be a significant disadvantage, especially for developing countries.

3. Submergence of Land and Reservoirs: The construction of a gravity dam requires the creation of a reservoir, which results in the submergence of land and displacement of people living in the area. This can lead to social and environmental issues.

4. Limited Flexibility: Once a gravity dam is built, it cannot be easily modified or moved. Therefore, it is essential to carefully consider all factors before constructing a gravity dam as it will have long-term implications.

5. Height Limitations: The height of a gravity dam is limited by its own weight. As the height increases, so does the required base width, which can become uneconomical and impractical.

6. Vulnerability to Earthquakes: Gravity dams are more vulnerable to earthquake damage due to their massive structures and rigid design. This can result in structural failures and severe consequences.

7. Maintenance and Repair Costs: Gravity dams require regular maintenance and repairs to ensure their safety and functionality. The cost involved in such activities can be expensive and add to the overall cost of the dam.

8. Limited Control of Floods: Unlike other types of dams, gravity dams do not have the ability to regulate or control the flow of water during floods. This can lead to severe downstream flooding during heavy rainfall events.

9. Risk of Overtopping: If the design, construction, or maintenance of a gravity dam is not done correctly, it can lead to overtopping – the water spilling over the top of the dam. This can result in the failure of the dam and catastrophic consequences.

10. Impact on Fish Migration: The presence of a gravity dam can obstruct fish migration, disrupting aquatic ecosystems and affecting the livelihoods of people who depend on fishing.


In conclusion, gravity dams have been a vital technology in water resource management for centuries. Their simple yet effective design relies on the force of gravity to resist the pressure of water and provide a stable structure. They have been used for various purposes such as water supply, irrigation, flood control, and hydropower generation. However, with advancements in technology and the recognition of environmental impacts, alternative dam designs such as arch dams and buttress dams have emerged. These alternatives address some of the limitations of gravity dams, including height restrictions and reservoir capacity. Despite this, gravity dams still hold a significant role in the modern world and continue to be built to this day. With proper maintenance and monitoring, gravity dams can continue to play a vital role in water


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here