A three-dimensional finite element analysis was carried out to determine the annual variation of temperature and thermal stresses of a concrete arch dam. Appropriate heat transfer boundary conditions in the dam body were used for air and reservoir temperature as well as solar radiation variations. Karaj arch dam in Iran was used as a case study. The rate of convergence of the numerical solution is examined. Results of the finite element analysis show that probable cracks occur in a very narrow region of the downstream face. Thermal loads have the most significant effects for causing downstream cracks in comparison with self-weigh and hydrostatic loads. The cracked areas of downstream face conform to the regions that have the highest temperature in downstream face. It can be associated to the solar radiation, which shows two-dimensional analysis of an arch dam cannot yields accurate results and three-dimensional analysis is necessary.

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