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Beware of buried tank buoyancy

Insights and Resources, Structures & Tunnels

by Mark Bruder, P.Eng., R.V. Anderson Associates Limited


Buried concrete tanks can be damaged by groundwater-generated buoyancy force. There are two commonly encountered failure mechanisms for buried tanks due to the groundwater-generated buoyancy force: structural failure of the base slab, and complete tank flotation. For one of these to occur, either the effects of groundwater were not properly quantified or part of the groundwater GMS failed. It is important for designers, contractors, owners and operators to understand the buoyancy force, otherwise, costly and inconvenient repairs may be required during the construction, or design life, of any buried tank.

Published in the May – June 2013 Environmental Science and Engineering Magazine

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