Matthew Ind, Kate Brand and Mark Ferrier
The framework for undertaking a dam breach analysis for water dams is reasonably well established with a depth of information and software available to guide practitioners on a consistent approach to undertaking failure impact assessments. In contrast, dam breach modelling for tailings dams is currently a developing field with a wide range of modelling approaches taken and an inconsistency in the quality of the failure impact assessments undertaken. Recent tailings dam failures at the Mt Polley Mine in British Columbia, Canada and the Fundäo and Santarém dams at the Samarco iron ore operation in Minas Gerais, Brazil have provided a sobering reminder of the hazards presented by tailings dams and the clean-up challenges that are significantly more complex than a similar failure of a water dam.
Current guidelines and approaches to dam breach modelling are often done assuming the run-out material from the breach is just water without due consideration of the impact from tailings loss. There is limited analysis undertaken on credible failure modes of tailings dams with an assumption that the embankment just “breaks” at some random point without appreciation of the failure mechanism. The misunderstanding of failure modes leads onto inconsistencies with application on whether a ‘sunny-day’ or extreme flood event modelling should be applied, with one or the other selected without explanation.
This paper outlines a framework that can be applied when undertaking a dam breach study for tailings dams to enable a consistent and credible assessment of potential failure impacts. The following tasks are discussed in detail in support of this framework:
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This paper will present the use of Root Cause Analysis (RCA) as a means of evaluating the causes for failure modes and is based on work completed for an upstream tailings storage facility (TSF) raise where significant transverse and longitudinal cracking was observed.
The design of the TSF was based on the use of a starter wall with perimeter discharge from spigots spaced at about 25 m centres along the upstream crest. The TSF was raised using an upstream design and during routine inspections two years after completion of the raise, transverse cracks of up to 30 mm were noted on the crest and longitudinal cracks up to 40 mm width were noted on the downstream slope of the raised embankments. Concerns were raised over the extent and depth of the transverse cracking and the risks they pose to piping, seepage and containment.
Field investigations including test pitting and material testing were completed to evaluate the depth and extent of the cracking. The findings from field investigations, together with a review of the historical aerial photographs and superposition of the cracks and the locations of the spigots were then used in a Root Cause Analysis workshop.
Discussions on all causes for the cracking, asking the question “why did the problem occur?”, and then continuing to ask “why that happened?” until the fundamental process element that failed was reached”.
During the workshop, the most significant contributors for the transverse and longitudinal cracking and the likely location, extent and size of the cracks were evaluated. This identified the potential for traditional structural hog and sag bending moments causing the transverse crest cracking with the potential for transverse cracking at the interface of the raise and the original tailings. This was not previously identified as a potential piping location. The longitudinal cracking was considered to be mainly owing to settlement of the upstream tailings.
There is a significant body of knowledge in relation to assessing the impacts of earthquakes on earth and rock fill dams which has led to a number of widely recognised and accepted methodologies for the calculation of potential deformations from an earthquake event. However, limited research has been conducted into the assessment of blasting impacts on earth structures. This has led to an adoption of earthquake analysis methods in the assessment of blasting impacts on earth structures without adequate consideration to the difference between the stresses and displacements imposed on an embankment as a result of a blast as opposed to an earthquake. Adopting earthquake analysis techniques may result in conservative vibration limits being imposed when undertaking blasting near embankment dams which may have negative financial impacts.
This paper explores the risks associated with blasting adjacent to earth fill dams and details the difference between stresses and displacements imposed on an embankment by a blast versus an earthquake.
This paper also discusses previously adopted approaches to assessing potential impacts associated with blasting and the limitations associated with adopting a pseudo-static and simplified permanent deformation analysis for blasts modelled as equivalent earthquakes. Finally, the paper proposes an alternate risk based analysis approach.
Amanda Ament, Thomas Ewing, Frank Nitzsche
The automatic operating buoyancy type spillway gates at Lenthall Dam did not operate properly since installation. This paper discusses the problems encountered, the investigation conducted using computational fluid dynamics to quantify the problems and develop solutions. It describes the design of the modifications to the gate and flow regime and results after construction.
Michael F. Rogers, Gerard (Jerry) E. Reed III, and Glenn S. Tarbox
The San Diego County Water Authority (Water Authority) recently completed the San Vicente Dam Raise Project (SVDR) to increase local water storage capacity in San Diego County, California as the final phase of the $1.5 billion Emergency & Carryover Storage Project (E&CSP). The E&CSP was developed by the Water Authority to protect the San Diego region from disastrous disruptions to the imported water delivery system due to catastrophic events (e.g. earthquake, structural failure, extended drought, etc.) and to address climate change conditions by increasing the amount of water stored locally in the San Diego region. The E&CSP also provides new features for the legacy Water Authority system delivery to provide a more flexible conveyance system.
Peter Woodman, Andrew Northfield, Tim Kallady
Currently there is little guidance available on how itinerants on roads should be included in a consequence assessment. The methods available are often subjective which can lead to itinerants on roads either being ignored or insufficiently considered. A fact that can in turn lead to consequence categories being inappropriately assigned to the asset being assessed or risks being under or over estimated. Consideration of these itinerants is especially important for smaller dams or retarding basins in urban areas where often the Potential Loss of Life (PLL) in buildings is small but there are major roads carrying a large Population At Risk (PAR) through the inundation extent, which experience flooding of sufficient severity to pose a threat to life.
This paper looks at how the method used to assess itinerants on roads can affect the consequence category assigned to an asset and/or the risk of the dam or retarding basin. It will draw on a number of recent assessments undertaken for retarding basins within Melbourne and make comment on a possible approach to consider itinerants on roads in the future.