Journal of Earth Sciences and Geotechnical Engineering

Geothermal Study of a Tailings Deposit: Frost Line Modelling and Comparison to Field Data

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  • Abstract


    Seasonal freezing and thawing can have significant effects on tailings management. Tailings delivery, depositional schemes and water treatment are examples of activities that must be dealt with extra concern in sub-zero temperatures. Changes in mechanical properties, drainage possibilities or embedded frozen tailings layers are effects that can arise in poorly managed facilities. To avoid such consequences, a good understanding of the seasonal effects on the tailings deposit is needed. To get a better understanding of the geothermal regime in tailings, this paper presents a case study with geothermal modelling performed for the Laiva tailings facility in Finland, where major seasonal freezing and thawing periods are present. Ground temperatures and frost lines were predicted via one-dimensional modelling using air temperatures and snow cover depths from adjacent weather stations, and basic soil properties from the facility. Simulated results were compared to data obtained from thermal instruments in the field. The snow cover and its estimated thermal properties were shown to have large influence on the results. The model was able to accurately predict the thermal regime measured in the field. Strong agreement was shown, both in terms of ground temperatures and frost front positions. The methodology presented is useful for tailings management schemes in cold regions.


    Keywords: Geothermal Monitoring, Geothermal Modelling, Tailings, Soil Temperature, Frost Tubes, Snow Cover.