What Really Happened at the Oroville Dam Spillway?

What Really Happened at the Oroville Dam Spillway?

The Oroville Dam: A Critical Structure for Northern California and its Complex Features

In February 2017, the Oroville Dam experienced a crisis when concrete slabs in the spillway failed during floodgate releases, leading to the evacuation of nearly 200,000 people downstream. Despite being the tallest dam in the United States and falling under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s supervision, this critical incident raised questions about the dam’s safety and maintenance. Fortunately, an independent forensics team conducted an extensive investigation and produced a 600-page report to uncover the cause of the failure. The Oroville Dam, situated in Northern California, stands at an impressive height of 770 feet (235 meters) and serves as a crucial structure for the region.

The Oroville Dam, completed in 1968 and managed by the California Department of Water Resources, is a colossal structure. It features an earthen embankment forming the dam, a hydropower generation plant with reversible pump storage, a service spillway equipped with eight radial floodgates, and an emergency overflow spillway. The dam creates Lake Oroville, the second largest reservoir in California, and is an integral part of the California State Water Project. This extensive water storage and delivery system provides water to over 20 million people and vast areas of irrigated farmland.

The reservoir serves multiple purposes, including generating electricity with a capacity of over 800 megawatts. Additionally, during the wet season, the dam maintains an empty reserve volume to store floodwaters in case of significant upstream flooding. This stored water is then gradually released, minimizing potential damage downstream. It’s important to note that no dam is designed to hold all the water that could flow into the reservoir at once. To prevent breaches and failures due to water overtopping unprotected embankments, all dams require spillways to safely release excess inflows and maintain the reservoir level once full.

The Intricate Design and Functionality of Oroville Dam’s Spillways

Spillways, like the one at Oroville, can be the most complex and costly components of a dam. Oroville’s service spillway features a 180-foot (55-meter) wide chute that stretches for 3,000 feet (nearly a kilometer). Radial gates manage the water release, while large concrete blocks called dentates at the chute’s base disperse the flow to minimize erosion when it reaches the Feather River. The spillway can release an impressive 300,000 cubic feet (8,000 cubic meters) of water per second, which is equivalent to an Olympic-sized swimming pool every two seconds. To help visualize this immense flow rate, if you were to channel it through a standard garden hose, the water would move at 15% the speed of light and reach the moon in roughly 9 seconds. However, even this impressive flow rate isn’t enough to safeguard the embankment.

Large dams are designed to withstand extraordinary flooding events, often using a synthetic storm called the probable maximum flood as a basis. This storm represents the maximum rainfall that could physically occur. However, designing the primary spillway to handle such an event is often impractical due to its low likelihood of occurring during the dam’s lifetime. Instead, many dams feature a secondary, simpler, and less expensive spillway to handle massive water discharge during rare but extreme events. For example, Oroville Dam has an emergency spillway with a concrete weir set one foot above the maximum operating level.

Oroville Dam Crisis: Balancing Spillway Damage, Flood Risks, and Power Plant Operations

The reservoir overflow system is designed to prevent water from overtopping the dam’s crest by releasing excess water when the service spillway can’t keep up. In early 2017, Northern California experienced one of its wettest winters, leading to several major flood events. One such event occurred in February upstream of Oroville Dam, causing the reservoir to fill rapidly. Operators quickly realized that they needed to open the spillway gates to release the excess inflows. However, on February 7th, they observed an unexpected flow pattern halfway down the chute.

When the situation became alarming, the decision was made to close the gates and halt the flood releases to inspect the damage. Upon stopping the water, they discovered several large concrete slabs missing and a massive hole eroded beneath the chute. With more inflow predicted for the reservoir, there was little time for inspection and no opportunity for repairs. The damaged spillway had to remain operational, so gates were opened incrementally to monitor erosion. As more rain fell upstream, inflows increased, and the reservoir’s level rose rapidly. Operators soon faced a tough choice: open additional gates on the service spillway, risking further damage, or allow the reservoir to overflow the untested emergency spillway and pour down the nearby hillside.

Several factors made the situation more complex. Firstly, the service spillway was in poor condition, leading to concerns about erosion progressing upstream toward the headworks and potentially causing an uncontrolled reservoir release. Secondly, debris from the damaged spillway accumulated in the Feather River, elevating its level and posing a flood risk to the power plant. Lastly, the erosion along the service spillway endangered electrical transmission lines connecting the power plant to the grid. If these lines were lost or the hydropower facility flooded, it would compromise the dam’s only backup for reservoir releases.

Repairing the spillway was deemed nearly impossible until the power plant could be restored, leading operators to consider closing the spillway gates and allowing the reservoir to rise. However, they faced a dilemma: the emergency spillway had never been tested, and there was a lack of confidence in its ability to safely release such a large volume of water. Observing the rapid and aggressive erosion on the nearby service spillway only heightened these concerns. Additionally, using the emergency spillway would likely strip the topsoil and vegetation from the entire hillside, potentially endangering adjacent electrical transmission towers. As a result, a large team of engineers and operations personnel were actively engaged in analyzing data, forecasting weather, reviewing geologic records, and examining original design reports to determine the most appropriate course of action.

Managing a Dam Crisis: Balancing Unfavorable Options and Addressing Geological Challenges

Over just a few days, operators faced constantly changing conditions and sleep deprivation, making it challenging to manage risks associated with the dam. They aimed to limit releases from the service spillway while preventing the reservoir from overtopping the emergency spillway. However, with each new forecast predicting more rain and inflows, it became evident that they had to choose between two unfavorable options: increasing discharges to flood the powerhouse or allowing the reservoir to rise above the emergency spillway. Ultimately, they opted to let the reservoir level increase.

On February 11th, Lake Oroville experienced water rising above the emergency spillway’s crest for the first time in its history, just four days after the initial damage was observed. However, the situation quickly deteriorated as water flowing across the natural hillside began to channelize and concentrate. This rapid acceleration in erosion led to the formation of headcuts, which indicate unstable and incising waterways. Characterized by vertical drops in topography caused by flowing water, headcuts consistently move upstream, often at an aggressive pace.

Upstream in this context refers to the direction toward the emergency spillway structure, which was at risk due to the hillside’s unstable composition. The hillside, previously believed to be solid bedrock, was actually made up of erodible soil and weathered rock. If the headcuts reached the concrete structure, it would likely fail and release a massive wave of water from Oroville Lake, causing destruction in downstream communities.

Realizing the urgency of the situation, authorities issued an evacuation order for downstream residents on February 12th, displacing almost 200,000 people. Simultaneously, operators decided to open the service spillway gates, doubling the flow rate to quickly lower the reservoir’s level. The water level dropped below the emergency spillway crest that night, halting the flow and reducing the risk of immediate failure. By February 14th, the evacuation order was downgraded to a warning, allowing residents to return home.

Despite the forecast of more rain, the emergency spillway was not in good shape to manage additional water flow if the reservoir levels increased. The California Department of Water Resources (DWR) maintained discharges through the damaged service spillway to reduce the reservoir by 50 feet (15 meters), creating enough storage space to allow for spillway evaluation and repairs. The gates remained open until February 27th, almost three weeks since the beginning of the crisis, exposing the extensive damage to the dam’s right abutment.

Water begins its journey as minuscule raindrops during a heavy storm, and the earth’s topography funnels and concentrates it. This water is then turbulently released through massive human-made structures, resulting in harrowing scars carved through the hillside. But what causes this phenomenon? Several problems and issues contribute to the failure of concrete chutes, with geology being one of the most fundamental factors.

Despite the knowledge that certain areas of the spillway’s foundation consisted of weathered rock and soil, it was designed and maintained as though the entire structure was built on solid bedrock. This mischaracterization resulted in significant consequences. The initial damage to the spillway can be attributed to uplift forces.

Water-Induced Instability in Concrete Structures: The Oroville Dam Case Study

Concrete structures primarily maintain their stability due to their heavy weight, which keeps them anchored to the ground and helps them resist external forces. However, water can introduce complications to this stability. One might assume that adding water on top of a concrete slab would simply increase its weight and stability, but this is not the case when cracks and joints are present.

The Oroville Dam service spillway chute faced a significant issue due to numerous cracks and joints. Water penetrated these cracks, leading to the concrete slabs being submerged on all sides, which exacerbated the problem. The reasons behind the formation of these cracks and joints will be discussed further.

Structures underwater are affected by the buoyant force of the water they displace, which counteracts their weight and can destabilize them. Although concrete still sinks underwater, the net force holding the structure in place is only true in static conditions. When water is moving, such as in a spillway, Bernoulli’s principle comes into play.

Cracks and joints in a spillway can affect the water flow, and any protrusion into the stream can redirect it. If a joint or crack is offset, the redirection can occur underneath the slab, converting the kinetic energy of the fluid into potential energy or pressure. This is known as stagnation pressure, which occurs when 100% of the kinetic energy is converted. An example of this can be seen when the level rises in a tube directed into flowing water. The equation for stagnation pressure is a function of the velocity squared.

When the speed of the flow in a flume is doubled, the resulting pressure and the height the water rises in the tube are both quadrupled. This is because the pressure is directly proportional to the square of the flow speed. For instance, in the case of the Oroville spillway, the water moves at a significantly higher speed, leading to even greater pressure and water height in the tube.

The stagnation pressure acting on the bottom of a concrete slab generates an additional uplift force. If the total uplift forces surpass the slab’s weight, the slab will move, as seen in the Oroville incident. This causes a chain reaction where more foundation becomes exposed to fast-moving water, allowing the water to seep beneath the slabs and trigger a runaway failure. Engineers attempted to address this issue in the design process.

Design Flaws and Human Factors: The Oroville Dam Spillway Incident

The service spillway featured a drainage system composed of perforated pipes, designed to alleviate the pressure of water flowing beneath the slabs. However, the drain design significantly contributed to the chute cracks. Rather than embedding the drains in trenches within the foundation beneath the slabs, the concrete thickness was reduced to accommodate the drains.

The crack pattern observed on the chute closely resembled the layout of the drains underneath it. This indicated that the drains unintentionally allowed more water to seep below the slab rather than draining it away. Additionally, the chute featured anchors, which were steel rods connecting the concrete to the foundation material. However, these anchors were designed for robust rock foundations, and their design was not adapted when the actual foundation conditions were discovered during construction. Thus, the root cause was not merely a flawed design.

Human factors significantly contributed to the failure to address the inherent weaknesses in large dam structures. Despite regular inspections and periodic design comparisons with current dam engineering practices, issues persisted. Modern spillway designs now incorporate various features to prevent incidents like the one at Oroville. These features include multiple layers of reinforcement to prevent wide cracks, flexible water stops embedded in joints to restrict water migration below the concrete, and keyed joints that prevent slabs from easily separating. Additionally, lateral cutoffs help resist sliding and stop water from moving beneath one slab to another.

Anchors provide uplift resistance by securing slabs to their foundation, and joint surfaces are designed to prevent protrusions in high-velocity water flow. Unfortunately, the Oroville spillway lacked these features or they were improperly executed. Regulators mandated periodic design reviews, which should have identified the deterioration and inherent weaknesses before they escalated into significant problems.

Regarding the emergency spillway, the root issue was a mischaracterization of the foundation material during and after the design process. Emergency spillways are meant for rare events where some damage may be tolerated, but failure or near-failure putting downstream residents at risk of evacuation is unacceptable. Engineers must make conservative estimates of erosion when an emergency spillway is activated. Predicting erosion caused by flowing water is a challenging task in civil engineering, requiring advanced analysis, and even then, uncertainty remains substantial.

Navigating Emergency Decisions: Lessons from the Oroville Dam Crisis

Under the intense pressure of an emergency, it can be extremely challenging to make the best decisions. In the case of the dam operators, they opted to let the reservoir rise above the emergency spillway’s crest, instead of increasing discharges through the weakened service spillway. They based this decision on the original designer’s assurance that the structure could handle the increased flow. In retrospect, this decision might not have been the best one, as the powerhouse was farther from flooding and the transmission lines were more secure than initially believed. Eventually, they increased the discharges from the service spillway when they realized the extent of erosion occurring at the emergency spillway.

It’s important to note that the operators, who were making these critical decisions during the crisis, didn’t have the advantage of hindsight. They had to deal with numerous small yet significant decisions made over a long period that contributed to the initial failure. Additionally, the limitations of professional engineering practices can make it difficult to accurately predict outcomes and choose the ideal path.

The forensic team’s report on the Oroville Dam incident offers valuable insights and lessons for dam owners and engineers. One key takeaway is the importance of professional responsibility. People living or working downstream of large dams, like Oroville, often trust engineers, operators, and regulators to ensure their safety without fully understanding the potential risks of dam failure. Unfortunately, in this instance, that trust was broken. This serves as a crucial reminder for professionals whose work impacts public safety. The repair and reconstruction of Oroville Dam’s spillways also present an intriguing subject, possibly explored in future content. Feel free to share your thoughts on this matter.

The Role of Tunnels in the Future of Transportation: A Look at Emerging Technologies


As we continue to develop and expand our transportation networks, the role of tunnels becomes increasingly important. Tunnelling has been a critical aspect of transportation infrastructure for many years, allowing us to build roads, rail lines, and other transportation systems through challenging terrain. However, as technology advances, new opportunities and challenges arise in the field of tunnelling. In this article, I will explore the role of tunnels in transportation, the emerging technologies that are changing the industry, and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

Introduction to Tunnels and Tunnelling

Tunnelling is the process of excavating underground passages for various purposes, including transportation, mining, and construction. The technique has been used for centuries, with some of the earliest tunnels dating back to ancient Rome. In modern times, tunnelling technology has advanced significantly, allowing us to build tunnels through even the most challenging environments.

Tunnelling is a complex process that requires careful planning, design, and execution. It involves a range of disciplines, including geotechnical engineering, rock mechanics, and materials science. Tunnelling projects can take years to complete and require significant investment, but they can provide a range of benefits, including improved transportation infrastructure, reduced traffic congestion, and increased safety.

The Role of Tunnels in Transportation

Tunnels play a critical role in transportation infrastructure, allowing us to build roads, rail lines, and other transportation systems through challenging terrain. They can provide a range of benefits, including improved mobility, reduced congestion, and increased safety. Tunnels can also be used to connect different parts of a city and provide access to areas that are difficult to reach by other means.

One of the key advantages of tunnels in transportation is that they can be built underground, reducing the impact on the environment and local communities. They can also be used to bypass obstacles such as rivers, mountains, and other natural features, allowing for more direct and efficient transportation routes. Tunnels can also be used to reduce noise pollution and improve air quality, which can have significant benefits for urban areas.

Emerging Technologies in Tunnelling

Tunnelling technology is constantly evolving, with new techniques and equipment being developed to improve the efficiency and safety of the process. One of the emerging technologies in tunnelling is the use of autonomous vehicles for tunnel excavation. These vehicles can be controlled remotely, reducing the need for human workers in hazardous environments.

Another emerging technology in tunnelling is the use of 3D printing to create tunnel segments. This technique allows for greater precision and efficiency in the construction process, reducing waste and speeding up construction times. Other emerging technologies in tunnelling include the use of robotics and drones for inspection and maintenance, and the development of new materials for tunnel linings and support structures.

Geotechnical Engineering in Tunnelling

Geotechnical engineering is a critical discipline in tunnelling, as it involves the study of soil and rock mechanics to ensure the stability and safety of a tunnel. Geotechnical engineers use a range of techniques to analyze the soil and rock conditions, including borehole drilling, seismic surveys, and laboratory testing.

One of the key challenges in geotechnical engineering for tunnelling is dealing with unpredictable ground conditions. Soil and rock conditions can vary significantly over the course of a tunnel, and unexpected conditions can lead to delays, cost overruns, and safety issues. Geotechnical engineers must work closely with other disciplines, such as rock mechanics and materials science, to develop solutions to these challenges.

Rock Mechanics in Tunnelling

Rock mechanics is another critical discipline in tunnelling, as it involves the study of how rocks behave under stress and pressure. Tunnelling through rock can be particularly challenging, as different types of rock have different properties and behaviors. Rock mechanics engineers use a range of techniques to analyze the rock conditions, including borehole drilling, laboratory testing, and computer modeling.

One of the key challenges in rock mechanics for tunnelling is dealing with rock support and stabilization. As a tunnel is excavated, the rock around it is subjected to stress and pressure, which can cause instability and collapse. Rock mechanics engineers must design support structures, such as bolts, meshes, and shotcrete, to stabilize the rock and ensure the safety of the tunnel.

Advantages of Tunnelling

Tunnelling can provide a range of benefits for transportation infrastructure, including:

  • Improved mobility and connectivity
  • Reduced traffic congestion and pollution
  • Increased safety for drivers and pedestrians
  • Reduced impact on the environment and local communities
  • Access to areas that are difficult to reach by other means

Disadvantages of Tunnelling

While tunnelling can provide significant benefits, it also has some disadvantages, including:

  • High costs and long construction times
  • Potential for unexpected ground conditions and cost overruns
  • Safety risks for workers and the public
  • Disruption to local communities during construction
  • Limited flexibility in route planning

Case Studies of Successful Tunnelling Projects

There are many examples of successful tunnelling projects around the world, including:

  • The Channel Tunnel, which connects England and France and is one of the longest underwater tunnels in the world.
  • The Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Tunnel, which replaced an aging elevated highway with a new underground tunnel in Seattle, Washington.
  • The Gotthard Base Tunnel, which is the longest railway tunnel in the world and connects Switzerland and Italy.

These projects demonstrate the potential benefits of tunnelling for transportation infrastructure, including improved connectivity and reduced environmental impact.

Future of Tunnelling and Transportation

The future of tunnelling and transportation is likely to be shaped by emerging technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and robotics. These technologies have the potential to improve the efficiency and safety of tunnelling projects, reducing costs and construction times.

However, there are also significant challenges that must be addressed, including the unpredictable nature of ground conditions and the high costs of tunnelling projects. As such, the future of tunnelling and transportation is likely to be a balance between new technologies and traditional techniques, with a focus on sustainability, safety, and efficiency.

Conclusion

In conclusion, tunnelling plays a critical role in transportation infrastructure, allowing us to build roads, rail lines, and other systems through challenging terrain. Emerging technologies such as autonomous vehicles, 3D printing, and robotics are likely to shape the future of tunnelling, improving efficiency and safety. However, significant challenges remain, including the unpredictable nature of ground conditions and the high costs of tunnelling projects. As we continue to develop and expand our transportation networks, the role of tunnels will remain critical, and it is essential that we continue to innovate and improve the tunnelling process.

Maximizing the Potential of Soil Mechanics: The Importance of Geotechnical Engineering in Construction Projects

As a geotechnical engineer, I have seen the importance of soil mechanics in construction projects first-hand. Without a proper understanding of the soil and its properties, construction projects can face a multitude of issues such as foundation failures, settlement, and landslides. Geotechnical engineering is the branch of civil engineering that deals with the study of soil mechanics and its applications to construction projects. In this article, I will discuss the role of geotechnical engineering in construction projects, the importance of soil mechanics, geotechnical investigation and analysis, geotechnical design considerations, types of geotechnical engineering projects, challenges faced by geotechnical engineers, advancements in geotechnical engineering technology, and the future of geotechnical engineering.

Introduction to Geotechnical Engineering

Geotechnical engineering is a subfield of civil engineering that deals with the behavior of earth materials such as soil, rock, and groundwater. It involves the study of the physical properties of these materials and their interactions with structures and the environment. Geotechnical engineers play a critical role in the design, construction, and maintenance of infrastructure projects such as buildings, bridges, roads, and dams.

The Role of Geotechnical Engineering in Construction Projects

Geotechnical engineering plays a crucial role in construction projects by providing information about the soil and rock conditions at the site. This information is used to design foundations, retaining walls, and other structures that can support the loads placed upon them. Geotechnical engineers also evaluate the risks associated with natural hazards such as landslides, earthquakes, and floods, and provide recommendations for mitigating these risks.

Geotechnical engineers work closely with other professionals in the construction industry such as architects, structural engineers, and contractors to ensure that the design and construction of the project are safe, efficient, and cost-effective. They also play a key role in the environmental impact assessment of construction projects by evaluating the potential impact on the soil, groundwater, and surrounding ecosystems.

Importance of Soil Mechanics in Geotechnical Engineering

Soil mechanics is the branch of geotechnical engineering that deals with the behavior of soil under different loading conditions. It is important to understand the properties of soil such as its strength, compressibility, and permeability to design safe and efficient structures. Soil mechanics also helps geotechnical engineers to evaluate the potential for soil erosion, landslides, and other natural hazards that can affect the stability of structures.

Soil mechanics is used to design foundations for buildings, bridges, and other structures. It is also used to design retaining walls, slopes, and embankments. The properties of soil can vary widely from site to site, and even within a single site. Therefore, it is important to conduct geotechnical investigations to obtain accurate information about the soil conditions at the site.

Geotechnical Investigation and Analysis

Geotechnical investigation is the process of collecting and analyzing data about the soil, rock, and groundwater conditions at a site. This information is used to design safe and efficient structures and to evaluate the potential for natural hazards such as landslides, earthquakes, and floods. Geotechnical investigation involves a combination of field and laboratory testing.

Field testing involves collecting soil and rock samples from the site and performing tests to determine the properties of the soil and rock. Some common field tests include standard penetration tests, cone penetration tests, and vane shear tests. Laboratory testing involves analyzing the soil and rock samples to determine their physical and mechanical properties.

Geotechnical engineers use the data obtained from the geotechnical investigation to evaluate the suitability of the site for construction, to design foundations and other structures, and to develop recommendations for mitigating risks associated with natural hazards.

Geotechnical Design Considerations

Geotechnical design involves the process of designing safe and efficient structures that can withstand the loads placed upon them. Geotechnical engineers use the data obtained from the geotechnical investigation to design foundations, retaining walls, slopes, and embankments.

Foundations are designed to support the loads from the structure and to transfer these loads to the soil. The type of foundation used depends on the soil conditions at the site. For example, shallow foundations are used for buildings on stable soil, while deep foundations such as piles and drilled shafts are used for buildings on soft or unstable soil.

Retaining walls are designed to hold back soil or rock and to prevent landslides. The type of retaining wall used depends on the soil and rock conditions at the site. For example, gravity retaining walls are used for small slopes, while reinforced concrete retaining walls are used for larger slopes.

Slopes and embankments are designed to provide stability to the soil and to prevent landslides. The slope angle and the type of reinforcement used depend on the soil and rock conditions at the site.

Types of Geotechnical Engineering Projects

Most Geotechnical engineering projects can range from small residential buildings to large infrastructure projects such as bridges, tunnels, and dams. Some common types of geotechnical engineering projects include:

  • Foundations for buildings and structures
  • Retaining walls and slope stabilization
  • Embankments for roads and railroads
  • Dams and levees
  • Tunnels and underground structures
  • Landfills and waste disposal sites
  • Geothermal energy systems

Challenges Faced by Geotechnical Engineers

Geotechnical engineering can be a challenging field due to the variability of soil and rock conditions at different sites. Geotechnical engineers must take into account the uncertainty and variability of soil and rock properties in their designs and recommendations. They must also consider the potential for natural hazards such as landslides, earthquakes, and floods.

Another challenge faced by geotechnical engineers is the need to balance safety, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness in their designs. They must design structures that are safe and efficient while also considering the cost of construction and maintenance.

Advancements in Geotechnical Engineering Technology

Advancements in technology have greatly improved the field of geotechnical engineering in recent years. New testing methods and equipment have made it easier to obtain accurate data about the soil and rock conditions at a site. Computer modeling and simulation tools have made it easier to design structures and evaluate the potential for natural hazards.

Geotechnical engineers are also using new materials such as geosynthetics and soil stabilization techniques to improve the performance of structures and to mitigate the risks associated with natural hazards.

The Future of Geotechnical Engineering

The future of geotechnical engineering looks bright as the demand for infrastructure projects continues to grow around the world. As technology continues to advance, geotechnical engineers will have access to new tools and materials that will enable them to design safer and more efficient structures.

In addition, the need for sustainable construction practices will drive the development of new geotechnical engineering solutions that minimize the environmental impact of construction projects.

Conclusion

In conclusion, geotechnical engineering is a critical field that plays a crucial role in construction projects. The study of soil mechanics and its applications to construction projects is essential for designing safe and efficient structures. Geotechnical investigation and analysis, geotechnical design considerations, and the use of new technology and materials are all important factors in the success of geotechnical engineering projects. As the demand for infrastructure projects continues to grow, the future of geotechnical engineering looks bright.

Μ.Ο.Π.

Γενικά

Το Τμήμα Μηχανικών Ορυκτών Πόρων ιδρύθηκε με τον Νόμο 4610/2019 (ΦΕΚ 70/Α/07.05.2019) και ανήκει στην Πολυτεχνική Σχολή του Πανεπιστημίου Δυτικής Μακεδονίας με έδρα την Κοζάνη. Λειτουργεί στο campus του Πανεπιστημίου στην περιοχή Κοίλων, όπου βρίσκονται οι ακαδημαϊκές του δομές, όπως αίθουσες διδα­σκα­λίας, εργαστηριακές υποδομές, γραμματεία, κεντρική βιβλιοθήκη, και οι δομές φοιτητικής μέριμνας, όπως το φοιτη­τικό εστια­τόριο, εστίες, γυμναστήριο. Απέχει από το κέντρο της Κοζάνης περίπου 3 km ενώ υπάρχει τακτική συγκοινωνία με τα αστικά λεωφορεία.

Το Διδακτικό και Ερευνητικό Προσωπικό (μέλη ΔΕΠ) του Τμήματος παρουσιάζει πλούσιο ερευνητικό και διδακτικό έργο, με προϋπηρεσία σε Πανεπιστήμια και Ινστιτούτα του εξωτερικού (ΗΠΑ και Ευρώπη) και προσφέρει στους φοιτητές και στις φοιτήτριες του Τμήματός μας εκπαίδευση υψηλού επιπέδου. Η ερευνητική δραστηριότητα που συντελείται στο Τμήμα είναι καινοτόμου και υψηλού επιπέδου σε θέματα σχετικά με τις Ορυκτές Πρώτες Ύλες (ΟΠΥ) ενεργειακές και μη ενεργειακές, έρευνα, εντο­πισμός και εκμετάλλευση, αλλά και στα γνωστικά αντικείμενα της μεταλλευτικής, γεωτεχνικής και περιβαλλοντικής μηχανικής.

Εδώ οι φοιτητές και φοιτήτριές μας, με τη συμβολή των διδασκόντων τους, μαθαίνουν ότι οι ορυκτές πρώτες ύλες, δηλαδή τα µεταλλεύµατα, τα βιοµηχανικά ορυκτά, το πετρέλαιο, οι γαιάνθρακες, το φυσικό αέριο, καθώς και οι πηγές γεωθερµικής ενέργειας, μέσω των γεωθερμικών πεδίων, αποτελούν την υλική υποδοµή του σύγχρονου πολιτισµού και µία από τις κύριες πηγές της οικονοµικής ανάπτυξης. Θα διαπιστώσουν επίσης ότι η αξιοποίηση των ορυκτών πρώτων υλών έχει ιδιαίτερη σημασία για την Ελλάδα, καθώς χρησιμοποιεί εγχώριους πόρους και ταυτόχρονα παρουσιάζει έντονη εξωστρέφεια. Επιπλέον, η εξόρυξη παρέχει τις ορυκτές πρώτες ύλες που διευκολύνουν την ανάπτυξη άλλων σημαντικών παραγωγικών δραστηριοτήτων στη χώρα, όπως η ηλεκτροπαραγωγή, η βασική μεταλλουργία, η παραγωγή τσιμέντου και οι κατασκευές, συμβάλλοντας επομένως και με αυτό τον τρόπο στην ενδυνάμωση της ελληνικής οικονομίας.

Η συμβολή της αξιοποίησης των ορυκτών πρώτων υλών στην οικονομία γενικά υπερβαίνει τον στενό ορισμό της εξόρυξης και αποτυπώνεται με μεγαλύτερη ευκρίνεια σε επίπεδο εξορυκτικής βιομηχανίας, στο οποίο λαμβάνεται υπόψη η καθετοποίηση των δραστηριοτήτων εξόρυξης και μεταποίησης.

Η εγχώρια εξορυκτική βιομηχανία της χώρας μας παρουσιάζει έντονη εξωστρέφεια, η οποία δεν περιορίζεται στο υψηλό ποσοστό της παραγωγής με προορισμό τις διεθνείς αγορές. Η διεθνοποίηση του κλάδου της εξορυκτικής βιομηχανίας ανα­δεικνύεται και μέσω της ένταξης εγχώριων επιχειρήσεων σε πολυεθνικούς ομίλους, αλλά και με τη δημιουργία κοινών επιχειρήσεων (joint ventures), με πολλά σημεία εξόρυξης στο εξωτερικό και με δίκτυα εξαγωγών σε πολλούς προορισμούς.

Σύμφωνα με τον Σύνδεσμο Μεταλλευτικών Επιχειρήσεων (ΣΜΕ), σημαντικό μέρος του κύκλου εργασιών των επιχειρήσεων της εξορυκτικής βιομηχανίας προέρχεται από πωλήσεις στις διεθνείς αγορές. Η αξία των εξαγωγών πλησίασε το 1,1 δισεκ. €  το 2013, ξεπερνώντας το 50% των συνολικών πωλήσεων του κλάδου, με ενδείξεις για αύξηση το 2014 κατά περίπου 8%. Η εξωστρέφεια είναι ιδιαίτερα αυξημένη σε προϊόντα όπως τα μάρμαρα, τα βιομηχανικά ορυκτά και τα μέταλλα, όπου η αξία των εξαγωγών ξεπερνά διαχρονικά το 70% της αξίας των πωλήσεων.

Τέλος, λαμβάνοντας υπόψη τις ευρωπαϊκές και εθνικές πολιτικές για τις ορυκτές πρώτες ύλες, η ανάγκη για απρόσκοπτη πρόσβαση σε πρώτες ύλες προϋποθέτει την ύπαρξη και την εφαρμογή μιας ενιαίας, ολοκληρωμένης ευρωπαϊκής πολιτικής. Σε αυτό το πλαίσιο, οι θεσμοί της ΕΕ έχουν θεσπίσει επιμέρους στρατηγικές που στοχεύουν στην απρόσκοπτη πρόσβαση σε πρώτες ύλες διεθνώς, στην αποδο­τι­κότερη διαχείριση των υφιστάμενων κοιτασμάτων, στον περιορισμό του περιβαλ­λοντικού αποτυπώματος της βιομηχανίας, καθώς και στην καλλιέργεια της εμπιστο­σύνης μεταξύ των κοινωνικών εταίρων.

Το πρόγραμμα σπουδών του τμήματος  είναι πενταετές και οργανώνεται σε 10 ακαδημαϊκά εξάμηνα. Στο όγδοο και ένατο εξάμηνο εισάγονται τρεις κατευθύνσεις στο Πρόγραμμα Σπουδών, τα γνωστικά αντικείμενα των οποίων αποτελούν εν πολλοίς τα πεδία εφαρμογής της έρευνας των μελών ΔΕΠ του Τμήματος και περιγράφονται ενδεικτικά παρακάτω:

α. Μεταλλευτική και Γεωτεχνική Μηχανική: Αναφέρεται στις μεθόδους εξόρυξης, αντιστή­ριξης επιφανειακών και υπόγειων έργων, στα συστήματα φόρτωσης και μεταφοράς, στον αερισμό υπόγειων έργων, στην  ανάλυση αστοχιών, στα  φράγματα ταμιευτήρων, στην εκμε­τάλ­λευση και επεξ­εργα­σία λατομικών υλικών και μαρμάρων,  στην πληροφορική στα μεταλλευτικά έργα, στις με­ταλ­λικές κατασκευές στα μεταλλευτικά και βιομηχανικά έργα, στα πληροφοριακά συστήματα δια­χείρι­σης μεταλλευτικών έργων.

β. Ενεργειακοί Πόροι: Περιλαμβάνει τη μηχανική ταμιευτήρων υδρογονανθράκων, την τεχνολογία εκμε­τάλ­λευσης  γαιανθράκων, τις μεθόδους εντοπισμού γαιανθράκων και υδρο­γο­νανθράκων, τη μηχανική πετρελαίου και φυσικού αερίου, την οικονομοτεχνική ανάλυση αξιοποίησης ενεργειακών πόρων, τα γεωθερμικά πεδία, τις ΑΠΕ.

γ. Γεωπεριβαλλοντική Μηχανική: Στοχεύει στη διαχείριση αερίων, υγρών και στερεών αποβλήτων σε μεταλλευτικούς και  λατομικούς χώρους,  αλλά και στον περιβαλλοντικό έλεγχο γενικότερα, την αποκατά­στα­ση περιβάλλοντος στις εκμεταλλεύσεις ορυκτών πόρων, την εκπόνηση περιβαλλοντικών μελετών,  μελετών περιβαλλοντικών επιπτώσεων και στρατηγικής περιβαλλοντικής εκτίμησης, στα καταστροφικά φαινόμενα και στη διαχείριση ποιότητας – πιστοποίηση.

Με το πέρας των σπουδών τους οι απόφοιτοι του τμήματος αποκτούν τον τίτλο του Διπλωματούχου Μηχανικού Ορυκτών Πόρων, με επαγγελματικά δικαιώματα που ρυθμίζονται από το άρθρο 14, του Π.Δ. 99/ΦΕΚ.187 τ.Α/5.11.2018

Dr Costas Sachpazis

Dr Costas Sachpazis is a man of many talents, having achieved success in the fields of civil engineering, teaching, and research. His work has had a lasting impact on the field of civil engineering in Greece, and his contributions to the University of Western Macedonia have been invaluable. From his creative problem-solving skills to his dedication to teaching, Dr Costas Sachpazis is an inspirational figure for all civil engineers.

What it has been said about Dr Costas Sachpazis

Dr Costas Sachpazis has established himself as a leader in the field of civil engineering. His expertise in the area of bridge engineering has helped to advance the field, and his research has been instrumental in the development of new technologies and approaches. His work has been recognized regionally and internationally, and he has been awarded a number of prestigious awards for his contributions.

In addition to his research, Dr Costas Sachpazis has also been involved in a number of projects involving the construction of bridges and other civil engineering projects. His experience in the field has enabled him to provide valuable insight and guidance on these projects, and his expertise has been invaluable in ensuring their success.

Dr Costas Sachpazis is also an accomplished teacher, having taught at the University of Western Macedonia for many years. His classes are known for their creative problem-solving elements, and his students often cite him as one of the most inspiring professors they have ever had. He is also an active researcher, having published numerous papers on civil engineering topics.

Dr Costas Sachpazis is a Civil Engineer and University Professor at the University of Western Macedonia

Dr Costas Sachpazis is a professor at the University of Western Macedonia, where he teaches classes in civil engineering. He has been teaching at the university for many years, and his classes are highly sought after by students. His classes often involve creative problem-solving elements, and his students often cite him as one of the most inspiring professors they have ever had.

In addition to his teaching, Dr Costas Sachpazis is also a highly respected researcher in the field of civil engineering. He has published numerous papers in national and international journals, and his research has been instrumental in the development of new technologies and approaches in the field. His work has been recognized regionally and internationally, and he has been awarded a number of prestigious awards for his contributions.

Dr Costas Sachpazis is also an active member of the civil engineering community, having served on a number of committees and boards. He is a frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, and his expertise is often sought after by other civil engineers. He is also an advocate for sustainable development, and his knowledge and experience in the field have been invaluable in promoting the importance of sustainable development.

Dr Costas Sachpazis is an inspirational figure for all civil engineers. His dedication to research, teaching, and the field of civil engineering has made him a respected and admired figure in the field. His creative problem-solving skills and passion for the field have enabled him to make a lasting impact on the field, and his contributions to the University of Western Macedonia have been invaluable.

Dr Costas Sachpazis, according to Wikipedia,  is an exemplary role model for academics, engineers, and entrepreneurs alike. He has achieved immense success in his life, having made significant progress in both his professional and personal life. He is a highly respected civil engineer and professor at the University of Western Macedonia. His achievements are remarkable and serve as an inspiration for us all.

A Man of Many Talents: Dr Costas Sachpazis

Dr Costas Sachpazis is a man of many talents. He is a highly respected civil engineer and professor at the University of Western Macedonia. He has achieved a great deal of success in his professional life and has been awarded numerous accolades for his achievements. In addition to his impressive academic background, he is also an entrepreneur and businessman, having founded several companies and ventures. He is truly an inspiration to many and is an example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication.

He is well known for his innovative solutions and approach to problem-solving. He has been involved in many projects in the public and private sectors, providing valuable insight and expertise. His expertise in engineering and construction has been invaluable for many companies. He is also a highly sought-after speaker and advisor, having been invited to speak at various conferences and events around the world.

Dr Costas Sachpazis is a Civil Engineer and University Professor at the University of Western Macedonia

Dr Costas Sachpazis is a highly accomplished engineer and professor at the University of Western Macedonia. He has been teaching at the university for many years and has been instrumental in the development of the civil engineering program. He has also been involved in numerous research projects and has published several papers in international journals. His knowledge and expertise in engineering and construction have been invaluable for the university.

In addition to his teaching and research activities, Dr Costas Sachpazis is also a successful entrepreneur and businessman. He has founded several companies and ventures, providing employment and opportunities to many people. His commitment to the development of the local economy is admirable and he has been recognized for his efforts by the government and the community.

Dr Costas Sachpazis is an actual role model for academics, engineers, and entrepreneurs alike. He is an example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication. His achievements are remarkable and serve as an inspiration for us all.

Dr Costas Sachpazis is an exemplary role model for academics, engineers, and entrepreneurs alike. His achievements in both his professional and personal life are remarkable and inspire us all. His dedication to the development of the local economy is admirable and he has been recognized for his efforts by the government and the community. He is a true example of what can be achieved with hard work and dedication.

Dr. Costas Sachpazis is a Civil & Geotechnical Engineer and an ICE Prize Award Winner Member of “The Institution of Civil Engineers” (ICE), with Membership Number: 67689219. He is an active Civil Engineering member of the Technical Chamber of Cyprus (ETEK), Reg. No.: P004216, and Founder and Managing Director of Geodomisi Ltd, and the co-founder and co-Managing Director of the British Company GeoStatic Ltd. Over the years, he has acquired the following Degrees and Academic Titles:

B.Eng (First Class Honours) in Civil Engineering at the University of Portsmouth, U.K., 2013. (Ranking place: Top student distinction because he achieved the highest overall grade in the cohort of 120 classmates).
Diploma in Applied Geology. The Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. Greece. 1980.
Attendance of final year of Bachelor’s degree (B.Eng.) in Civil Engineering at Newcastle University, England, 1982. (MSc Preparatory Course).
Master (M.Sc. Eng.) in Civil-Geotechnical Engineering. Civil Engineering Department. University of Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. (Specialized in: Foundation Engineering, Soil Mechanics, Rock Mechanics, Laboratory testing-researching of Soils and Rocks, Engineering Geology, Underground water flow). 1983.
Ph.D., in Geotechnical Engineering, at the National Technical University of Athens (N.T.U.A.) – Greece, 1988. Grade: Excellent Unanimously. Specialized in: Geotechnical Engineering – Rock Mechanics – Rock Testing.
Post-Doc Research fellow invitation in Carbon Critical Geotechnics at Newcastle University, U.K., 2012.
Costas is a Professional Civil & Geotechnical Engineer, accredited by the Ministry of Public Works, holding a professional license scholar in category 21/C (Geotechnical Engineering), specialising on Geotechnical Engineering, Soil Dynamics, Soil Mechanics, Rock Mechanics, Foundation Engineering, Landslides, Earth Retaining Structures in excavations, Structural Modeling, Analysis, Design and Detailing, as well as on the analysis of Ground – Foundation – Structure Interaction. He has about 25 years of experience and involvement in applied research, consultancy services and the design of Geotechnical and Civil Engineering Projects in both the Public and Private sectors. In addition, he is a Professor of Civil-Geotechnical Engineering in the Department of Mineral Resources Engineering at the University of Western Macedonia (UOWM), Greece, since 29 April 2019 to date. (Government Gazette (FEK) 2155 τ. Β 7-6-2019 & Government Gazette (FEK) 2151, B 7-6-2019), (Link), Postgrad Professor in the MSc Course MOGMAT of the Greek-Azerbaijani International Inter-University, Interdepartmental common Master Programme, “Petroleum Oil and Gas Management and Transportation – M.Sc. MOGMAT” (Government Official Gazette FEK 1449 issue B/16 April 2020, in accordance with the provisions of Law 4485/2017 (Official Gazette 114 A), (Link), Postgrad Professor in MSc Course in Renewable Energy Sources & Management. Interdepartmental common Master Programme, between the Departments of Mechanical Engineering and Electrical & Computer Engineering of the University of Western Macedonia – Kozani Greece, are jointly organizing a Post-graduate – Master of Science – program entitled: “Renewable Energy Sources & Energy Management in Buildings – M.Sc. RES” (Government Official Gazette FEK 3716 issue B/08 October 2019), (Link), as well as Adjunct Professor at the Greek Open University in the Postgraduate (M.Sc.) programmes: “Waste Management” (2008 to 2011) and “M.Sc. in Earthquake Engineering and Seismic-Resistant Structures” (2014 to date). He is also an Accredited Reviewer at the International Publishing Organizations “Elsevier” and “Springer”. He is an Industrial Expert, appointed by the Hellenic Republic Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning and Religious Affairs, for the evaluation and assessment of research proposals submitted to the Inter-State Programme for Research, Innovation & Technological Development between Greece and Israel. He has published numerous scientific Papers, Articles and Academic Books / Lecture Notes. For more details click (pdf).