REGALADO G., MATERÓN, B.,
ORTEGA, J., AND VARGAS, J., “Alto
Anchicayá Concrete Face Rockfill
Dam: Behaviour of the Concrete
Face membrane”, Transactions,
Q55, R30, 14th ICOLD Congress,
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; May 1982.
The progress of CFRDs
Bayardo Materón shares his views on how concrete faced rockfill dams
have progressed over the past few decades
 PINTO, N.L.de S., MATERÓN,
B., AND MARQUES, F.P.L., “Design
and Performance of Foz do Areia
Concrete membrane as related to
Basalt Properties” Transactions,
Q55, R51, 14th ICOLD Congress,
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 1982.
I HAVE HAD THE privilege of working on hydroelectric
projects over the past 60 years as a consultant in the
design and construction of rockfill dams which have
been built on the five continents.
rockfill vibratory compaction, the rapid sliding
methods in the placement of the face slab concrete
and the optimisation of water stop seals improved
the performance of these CFRDs, according to the
 COOKE.J.B., “The concrete-
faced rockfill dam”, Water Power &
Dam Construction; January 1991.
Several years ago I received the invitation to
continue the list of Concrete Face Rockfill Dams
(CFRDs) that IWP&DC publishes in its Yearbook. This
list was initiated by the respectable consultant J Barry
Cooke who invited me to continue listing the main
characteristics of this type of dam, which have been
proposed, designed and built in the last 100 years.
If the progress of these structures is analysed,
it can be seen that the technology developed in
These construction facts, combined with the
advances in computer science, have contributed
to the development of this type of dam that today
reaches heights to the order of 300m.
 BEACH, A., GILL, R., AND VAN
EMMERICK, P., “Advances in face
slab construction techniques
for CFRDs”, Water Power & Dam
Construction; January 1991.
 NEIDERT, S.H., AND TONIATTI,
N.B., “Design and Construction
of the Segredo Concrete Faced
Rockfill Dam”, Water Power & Dam
Construction; January 1991.
Reaching new heights
Historically the compaction of rockfill using vibratory
equipment originated in Europe but it was in Australia
where the Cethana dam, with a height of 110m, was
built for the first time at the end of the 1960s being the
highest compacted CFRD structure.
 MATERON B. Evolution in
slab construction for the highest
CFRDs., Water Power and Dam
Construction, April 1992.
Later in Colombia, South America, the Corporación
Autonoma Regional del Cauca - CVC adopted this
type of structure and we built the Alto Anchicayá Dam.
At 140m it was the highest in the world in its time and
contributed to the understanding of the deformations
of these structures stimulating their development and
Above: Foz Do Areia CFRD, 160m – Brazil Below: Aguamilpa CFRD, 188m – Mexico
 MATERON B.,W. PITANGA
and E. ARFELLI., Construction
planning for the Xingo CFRD.
Water Power and Dam
compacted rockfill, gravels from the riverbed of the
Santiago river in the state of Nayarit, Mexico. This dam,
which was the highest in the world, opened the doors
for the CFE to define later that the El Cajón (188m) and
La Yesca (208m) dams placed also on the Santiago
river were of the same type as Aguamilpa with
excellent behaviour. These three dams were awarded
the international milestones prize by Brazilian and
Chinese associations during the technical exchange
between these two countries.
Construction, April 1992.
 “Speeding up Construction”,
International Water Power & Dam
Construction, September 2003.
With the experience of these relatively high dams,
the Companhia Paranaense de Energia Elétrica -
COPEL, of Brazil, broke the world record for height and
built the Foz do Areia dam. This was 160m high with
a waterproofing slab on the order of 140,000m2, and
with a dam volume of approximately 14,000,000m3.
The construction techniques and the productions
in the placement of the compacted rockfill reached
figures higher than 500,000m3 per month, every month
for twoconsecutive years.
 MATERÓN, B., “Sharing
International Experiences in
CFRDs”, International Water Power
& Dam Construction, September
It is interesting to mention that the extrapolation of
the behavior of CFRDs has spread in several countries
The technical results obtained in Foz do Areia
stimulated the adoption of this type of structure (CFRD)
in Brazil and today 12 dams of the same type have
been built with adequate behaviour. Among these
dams are Segredo (145m), Xingo (150m), Campos
Novos (202m) and Barra Grande (185m).
Countries such as Chile, Argentina and Colombia,
are building concrete face rockfill dams. The
construction of high structures in Asia also began in
the 2000s, with structures such as Bakún, 205m built in
Malaysia and Tianshenqiao, 178m in China,.
In Europe there was construction of Messochora
dam (150m in Greece) and the Karahnjukar Dam
(190m in Iceland). In Africa, the dams of Mohale
(145m) and Merowe (53m) were built and similar dams
are studied in Lesotho, Ethiopia, Laos and Nepal.
My greatest achievement and professional
Below: Shuibuya CFRD, 233m
It is worthy of mention that technical aspects and
construction methodologies of some of these dams,
including Foz do Areia, have been published and
commented on in various IWP&DC articles during
the planning and construction of the projects (see
satisfaction has been the participation in most of the
projects mentioned above.
The Federal Commission of Mexico (CFE) in 1990
decided to build the Aguamilpa dam. At 187m it was
higher than Foz do Areia and using, in addition to
Today the greatest growth and development of this
type of dam is in China where there is the highest dam
in the world in operation, Shuibuya CFRD at 233m
high. New developments are under study reaching
Top: Bayardo Materón
heights of 300m. ●
Middle: Cethana CFRD 110m – Australia
Bottom: Alto Anchicaya CFRD, 140m - Colombia -