Abstract

Borinquen Dam 1E is part of the new Pacific Access Channel (PAC) of the Panama Canal Expansion. The 2.3-km-long zoned rockfill dam forms the navigational channel providing navigation access from the Gaillard Cut to the new Post-Panamax Pacific Locks. A key geologic objective during construction was to confirm locations and activity of faults mapped at the dam during design, namely the Pedro Miguel Fault (PMF) and its suspected newly mapped “main trace.” The design allowed for core and filter widening at the anticipated location of the PMF at the south abutment and at a west branch of the PMF (believed to be the main active trace of the fault) mapped along the dam axis about one-third of the way north from the south abutment. As-built geologic mapping revealed complex faulting associated with the PMF crossing the southeast half of the foundation, the PAC, and the nearby Dam 1W foundation along a north-south trend. Trenching and age dating of alluvium overlying the faults crossing the Dam 1E foundation and overlying the PMF at Dam 1W indicated the unfaulted alluvium was latest Pleistocene to early Holocene age. At Dam 1E, the core and filters were widened to accommodate potential fault rupture on the PMF and a previously unrecognized fault revealed across the width of the dam foundation. The west branch of the PMF (trenched and mapped during design investigations) was determined to not exist at Dam 1E based on mapping the dam foundation and other extensive excavations created for the PAC.

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