Generally serves the purpose of retaining water.

Arch Dam

A dam with an arched shape that resists the force of water pressure; requires less material than a gravity dam for the same distance.

Buttress Dam

A gravity dam reinforced by structural supports.


A temporary dam built to divert a river around a construction site so the dam can be built on dry ground.

Diversion Channel

A bypass created to divert water around a dam so that construction can take place.

Downstream Face

the side of the dam that is not against the water.

Embankment Dam

A dam composed of a mound of earth and rock; the simplest type of gravity dam.

Gravity Dam

A dam constructed so that its great weight resists the force of water pressure.


An overflow channel that allows dam operators to release lake water when it gets high enough to threaten the safety of a dam.

Tailings Dam

A dam, usually made of earth and rock, used to contain mining waste.

Upstream Face

The side of a dam that is against the water.

See also: Arch Dam, Buttress Dam, Cofferdam, Embankment Dam, Gravity Dam, Tailings Dam.

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Subjects: Civil Engineering