Journal of Earth Sciences and Geotechnical Engineering

Benefits of Advanced Constitutive Modeling when Estimating Deformations in a Tailings Dam

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  • Abstract

    Behavior of tailings dams are often controlled in dam surveillance programs where horizontal deformation is one of the key aspects. When evaluating field data, there is a necessity for comparison with anticipated deformations in order to relate field behavior to dam stability. With numerical modeling, these predictions can be made. This paper presents a case where horizontal deformations in a tailings dam have been simulated for a six-year period, using two-dimensional finite element modeling. Yearly dam raises have been simulated as staged constructions according to activities at site. Tailings materials have been simulated with an elasto-plastic constitutive model with isotropic hardening, called Hardening Soil and the conventional linear-elastic, perfectly plastic Mohr-Coulomb model. Soil parameters used for input were calibrated to laboratory data. Results from simulations were compared with data obtained in situ by a slope inclinometer. Results obtained by the Hardening Soil model indicate good agreement with respect to field measurements. However, this was not reached with the Mohr-Coulomb model. The results presented indicate benefits by using an advanced constitutive model for tailings in order to estimate in situ deformations in a tailings dam. The methodology presented can be used for prediction of future deformations, in order to relate the dam behavior to its stability. This is important in dam safety assessment, and will lead to a better understanding of the dam safety, being of great importance for the dam owner and the society in general.

    Keywords: tailings, field measurements, FE-model, inclinometer, Hardening Soil model, dam safety