29 March 2016

Sparmos Dam – a significant dam failure in Greece on Sunday 27th March

Posted by Dave Petley

Sparmos Dam – a significant dam failure in Greece on Sunday 27th March

In Elassona, Greece the Sparmos Dam overtopped and breached in the afternoon of Sunday 27th March. Geotechpedia has a short article with some images.  There is a better set of images on the Michanikos.gr website.  An edited Google translation of the description is as follows:

Thousands cubic meters of water poured onto the plain of Elassona, destroying roads and fields with crops when the Sparmos dam broke on Sunday.  The surge of water, indeed, was such that it even dismantled the pavement.

The breach in the dam itself is quite dramatic:

Sparmos Dam breach

An overview of the Sparmos Dam breach in Greece via Michanikos.gr


Fortunately downstream damage appears to be light.  Note the shallow landslide on the inner face of the dam wall, on the right side of the embankment.  I suspect that this is a drawdown landslide, triggered by imbalanced high pore water pressures in the embankment when the water level rapidly dropped.  Michanikos.gr also has a close up of the breach itself:

parmos Dam Breach

Detail of the Sparmos Dam Breach via Michaikos.gr

It seems fortunate that the damage was not more serious.  EPT reports (in Greek) that there are plans to rebuild the damaged portion of the dam to restore its capability to store water.  It seems important to understand first how the overtopping event occurred.