Seismic Monitoring System of Baixo Sabor and Feiticeiro Dams

Gilberto Silva Monteiro, Jorge Pacheco Neves, Jorge Pereira Gomes


In the last decade Portugal made a significant set of investments in new hydroelectric projects. According the Portuguese Dam Safety Regulation and Supporting Technical Documents, and the seismic risk for the regions where the dams were built, several seismic monitoring systems were implemented. One of the most important projects was the Baixo Sabor hydroelectric scheme which includes two large dams, namely the Baixo Sabor and Feiticeiro dams. These dams are located at northeast of Portugal and are very close to a major geological fault that crosses the Portuguese territory. Considering the seismic risk of the dam’s construction area, a seismic monitoring system was provided. That system incorporates stations in the dam’s galleries and remote stations along the reservoirs to detect eventual induced reservoir seismicity. This system has been in continuous operation and the data of the recorded earthquakes records has been analyzed and processed. This paper presents some aspects of the Portuguese legislation, refers the main studies that were used, presents a brief description of the regional Baixo Sabor geological and tectonic settings, describes the main features of the seismic monitoring system and presents some of the main results obtained during the first period of operation of the dams.


Doi: 10.28991/cej-2020-03091603

Full Text: PDF


Dam; Safety Regulation; Risk; Seismic Monitoring System; Dynamic Behaviour.


Cabral, J. and Ribeiro, A. “Neotectonic map of Portugal. Scale 1:1000000, Portugal Geological Services”. Lisboa, Portugal, 1988.

Ferreira da Silva, A., Rebelo, J.A. and Ribeiro, M.L. “Geological map of Portugal on the scale 1/50000”. Sheet 11-C (Torre de Moncorvo), Lisboa, Portugal, 1989.

Cabral, J. “Neotectonics of Mainland Portugal: State of the Art and Future Perspectives.” Journal of Iberian Geology 38, no. 1 (September 7, 2012). doi:10.5209/rev_jige.2012.v38.n1.39206.

LNEG. “Laboratório Nacional de Energia e Geologia”, Available Online: (Accessed on 27 May 2020).

EDP. “Hydroelectric Power Scheme of Baixo Sabor”. Project, (in Portuguese), 2005.

Heidbach, Oliver; Custodio, Susana; Kingdon, Andrew; Mariucci, Maria Theresa; Montone, Paola; Müller, Birgit; Pierdominici, Simona; Rajabi, Mojtaba; Reinecker, John; Reiter, Karsten; Tingay, Mark; Williams, John; Ziegler, Moritz (2016): “Stress Map of the Mediterranean and Central Europe 2016”. GFZ Data Services. doi:10.5880/WSM.Europe2016.

PDSR. “Portuguese Dam Safety Regulation”, (in Portuguese), 2018.

TDS_PDSR “Technical Documents Support for Portuguese Dam Safety Regulation”, 2018.

ICOLD. International Commission on Large Dams, “Bulletin 72: Selecting seismic parameters for large dams, Guidelines”, 1989.

GEOSIG. “GMS Measuring System: Features, Applications”, Electronics manufacturer in Schlieren, Switzerland (2012).

GEOSIG. “GMS – GPS Receiver”, Electronics manufacturer in Schlieren, Switzerland (2012).

Havskov and Ottemoller, SEISAN “Earthquake analysis software”, Seis. Res. Lett., 70, 2012. Available Online: (Accessed on 23 April 2020).

LNEC, FEUP, and Ambisig, "Upstream step dam of Baixo Sabor hydroelectric power plant. Characterization of the dam's dynamic behaviour through continuous monitoring. Installation Report", 2015.

Magalhães, F, S Amador, Á Cunha, and E Caetano. “DynaMo - Software for Vibration Based Structural Health Monitoring.” Bridge Maintenance, Safety and Management (June 21, 2012): 2160–2167. doi:10.1201/b12352-322.

LNEC, FEUP “Baixo Sabor dam. Characterization of the dynamic behavior of the dam by continuous monitoring from 2016 to 2019”, (Jul 2020).

Pereira, Sérgio, Filipe Magalhães, Jorge P. Gomes, Álvaro Cunha, and José V. Lemos. “Dynamic Monitoring of a Concrete Arch Dam during the First Filling of the Reservoir.” Engineering Structures 174 (November 2018): 548–560. doi:10.1016/j.engstruct.2018.07.076.

LNEC. “Baixo Sabor dam. Characterization of the dynamic behavior of the dam through the continuous monitoring system. Analysis of results between December 2015 and May 2017”. Report 331/2017. Lisbon, (October 2017).

LNEC, “Upstream dam of the Baixo Sabor hydroelectric scheme. Characterization of the dynamic behavior by performing a forced vibration test in january 2015”, Lisboa, 2016.

Gomes, J.P.; Lemos, J.V. “Characterization of the dynamic behavior of an arch dam by means of forced vibration tests”. 1st meeting of the EWG “Dams and Earthquakes”, Saint-Malo, France, (September 2016).

LNEC. “Baixo Sabor dam. Characterization of the dynamic behaviour by performing forced vibration tests in May 2016, with the reservoir water at 234,0 m elevation”, Lisboa, 2017.

Gomes, Jorge P., and José V. Lemos. “Characterization of the Dynamic Behavior of a Concrete Arch Dam by Means of Forced Vibration Tests and Numerical Models.” Earthquake Engineering & Structural Dynamics 49, no. 7 (February 3, 2020): 679–694. doi:10.1002/eqe.3259.

Wieland, M. “Features of Seismic Hazard in Large Dam Projects and Strong Motion Monitoring of Large Dams.” Frontiers of Architecture and Civil Engineering in China 4, no. 1 (December 16, 2009): 56–64. doi:10.1007/s11709-010-0005-6.

ICOLD. International Commission on Large Dams, “Bulletin 46. Seismicity and dam design”, 1983.

ICOLD. International Commission on Large Dams, “Bulletin 52. Earthquake analysis for dams”, 1986.

ICOLD. International Commission on Large Dams, “Bulletin 137. Reservoirs and seismicity - State of knowledge”, 2011.

SPANCOLD. “Technical guides on dam safety. Technical guide on operation of dams and reservoirs. Volume 1. Risk analysis applied to management of dam safety”, 2012.

ICOLD. International Commission on Large Dams, “Bulletin 155. Guidelines for use of numerical models in dam engineering”, 2013.

ICOLD. International Commission on Large Dams, “Bulletin 148. Selecting seismic parameters for large dams – Guidelines. Revision of Bulletin 72”, 2016.

ICOLD. International Commission on Large Dams, “Bulletin 166 - Inspection of dams following earthquake – Guidelines. Revision of Bulletin 062A”, 2016.

ICOLD. International Commission on Large Dams, “Bulletin 158. Dam surveillance guide”, 2018.

Full Text: PDF

DOI: 10.28991/cej-2020-03091603


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Gilberto Silva Monteiro

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.