Building a three dimensional sealed geological model to use in numerical stress analysis software: A case study for a dam site

Nengxiong Xu, Hong Tian, Pinnaduwa H.S.W. Kulatilake, Qingwei Duan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The dam area of the SUOXI hydropower project shows high terrain undulation and complex geological conditions, containing 6 faults and 7weak inter-beds. A geometric model developed to represent the geology and engineering structures should incorporate the geological realities and should allow suitable mesh generation to perform numerical stress analysis. This is an important precondition to perform rock mass stability analysis of a dam foundation based on a numerical stress analysis software such as FLAC3D. Using the modeling tools available in FLAC3D, it is difficult to construct a complex geological model even after performing a large amount of plotting and data analyses. The 3-D geological modeling technique suggested in this paper, named as Sealed Geological Modeling (SGM), is a powerful tool for constructing complex geological models for rock engineering projects that require numerical stress analysis. Applying this technique, first, the geological interfaces are constructed for the dam area of SUOXI hydropower project using various interpolation procedures including geostatistical techniques. Then a unitary wire frame is constructed and the interfaces are connected seamlessly. As the next step, a block tracing technique is used to build a geological model that consists of 130 seamlessly connected blocks. Finally, based on the Advancing Front Technique (AFT), each block is discretized into tetrahedrons and a mesh is generated including 57,661 nodes and 215,471 tetrahedrons which is suitable to perform numerical stress analysis using FLAC3D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1022-1030
Number of pages9
JournalComputers and Geotechnics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • 3-D geological modeling
  • Block tracing
  • Numerical stress analysis
  • Sealed model
  • Tetrahedral mesh generation
  • Wire frame

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Computer Science Applications


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