Earthquake design of a dam and associated appurtenant structures is a key aspect of dam design in the modern era. This paper outlines the design process undertaken to address potential earthquake loading for the 32m high outlet tower to be constructed as part of the new Eurobodalla Southern Storage project on the NSW South Coast. The driver for the project is to provide increased water supply security to communities on the South Coast, an area that is currently serviced by a single reservoir and is subject to frequent water restrictions. Construction is planned to commence for the project in early 2021.
This paper presents the design methodology undertaken to meet the requirements for earthquake design and presents a novel defensive design solution to improve the reliability of the outlet works for post-earthquake operation. The Authors contend that utilising this approach in design of future outlet towers will provide a greater level of confidence in the ability to undertake intervening measures following a severe earthquake. Moreover, the technology has the potential to serve as a relatively inexpensive interim upgrade measure for existing outlet towers expected to sustain an unacceptable degree of damage under earthquake loading.
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The importance of building and maintaining safe, resilient tailings dams has become increasingly apparent with the rise in catastrophic failures in recent years. According to the World Mine Tailings Failures (WMTF) data base, 11 major failures have occurred over the past decade, often with devastating impacts to nearby communities in terms of loss of life and impact to the environment. With the occurrence of these types of events only expected to increase in coming years, there has been a corresponding increase in global calls to action to develop monitoring systems to better predict and wherever possible, prevent these failures from occurring.
With up to an estimated 20,000 tailings dams around the world, the development and implementation of a worldwide monitoring protocol is a daunting task, particularly as many of these structures are remote and difficult to access. This is where a technology like InSAR can make an immediate impact. InSAR is a remote sensing technique that uses radar satellite imagery to measure ground movement with up to millimetric precision. Radar systems are active, meaning they collect information from reflections of the radar signal off the ground and therefore do not require the installation of any equipment. As satellite images cover areas that extend thousands of square kilometres, they can provide information not only on the stability of dams, but also entire regions. Global archives already exist due to the Sentinel constellation of satellites, which provide coverage since 2014 over most parts of the world.
In an ideal world, tailings dams are safe and constructed to provide permanent containment of mining by- products. However, experience has shown that they can fail, often with dire consequences, especially if these failures occur without warning. The development of an internationally accepted standard for tailings dam monitoring is imperative to ensure the safety and resiliency of these structures is continuously tracked. This paper explores the role InSAR can play in the development of a global protocol for tailings dam monitoring.
The geographical location of New Zealand to the south west of the ‘Pacific Ring of Fire’ and in the ‘Roaring Forties’ of the Pacific Ocean exposes national infrastructure networks across the country to a range of natural hazards. Despite this, studies of built environment resilience to natural hazards in New Zealand, have historically focused on the robustness of individual physical assets, with less emphasis on the performance of infrastructure networks at a national level. This is particularly true for the stopbank (levee) network. Until recently, stopbanks have often been considered at regional scales and to varying degrees depending on what information has been catalogued, and the level of interest / requirements and local expertise available at the time.
We present the findings of a preliminary national level natural hazard exposure assessment of New Zealand’s stopbank network by adopting the newly developed New Zealand Inventory of Stopbanks (NZIS). Geospatial seismic hazard data from recent modelling is used as a case study to demonstrate how understanding the exposure of stopbanks in NZIS can inform multi-hazard risk and resilience assessments. Four seismic and co- seismic hazard metrics are considered in our stopbank network exposure assessment: surface rupture (through proximity to known active faults), the strength of ground shaking (i.e. probabilistic estimates of peak ground accelerations and velocities), and liquefaction and landslide susceptibility.
With over 20% of current catalogued NZIS stopbank length and a relatively high seismic hazard exposure (active fault proximity and liquefaction susceptibility) in Southland, the likelihood of stopbank failure or breaching due to seismic activity appears to be relatively high in this region of New Zealand. Large sections of the stopbank network in other regions including Manawatu-Wanganui, Wellington and Hawkes Bay are also particularly exposed to large seismic hazards in our preliminary assessment. However, further work is required to more appropriately understand stopbank attributes including design and safety considerations.
Satellite remote sensing data can be used to monitor environmental processes and inform disaster risk reduction and hazard early warning. This paper describes the analysis of satellite remote sensing images to investigate the partial wall collapse of a tailings dam at the Cadia gold-copper mine in Australia that occurred on 9th March 2018. Our case study uses freely available remote sensing imagery acquired by the Copernicus Sentinel-1 (radar) and Sentinel-2 (multispectral) satellite constellations to monitor land surface changes in the Cadia mine area before and after the collapse. In this paper we discuss the benefits of utilising both radar and multispectral remote sensing imagery in a holistic approach to remote sensing, which could be used for continuous, near-real time monitoring of risk-related infrastructure such as dams without the need for in-situ measurement equipment.
We applied the Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) technique to measure surface displacements and interferometric coherence maps from a stack of Sentinel-1 radar images acquired between 2nd December 2015 and 25th June 2018 at regular 12 day intervals. The time series of surface displacements show a significant increase in the rate of movement of the dam wall in the area that eventually breached in the two months prior to the collapse. This change in movement behaviour was not observed at parts of the dam wall that remained intact. This analysis demonstrates the potential for InSAR monitoring to identify issues in advance of infrastructure failure, which could allow risk mitigation strategies to be implemented by the mine operator. We used interferometric coherence data to observe changes in the dam wall and surrounding areas before and after the collapse. A drop in coherence occurred in the breached section of dam wall, indicating the surface change caused by the collapse. Coherence for unaffected parts of the dam wall remained stable. Sentinel-2 multispectral imagery acquired between 2nd July 2017 and 24th June 2018 show the timing, extent and effects of the collapse as well as the rate of tailings movement.
Fault displacement can occur due to primary faulting on a main fault intersecting a dam foundation or rim, as well as by secondary faulting. This secondary faulting may be triggered locally by the occurrence of primary faulting on a main fault; its occurrence is conditional on the occurrence of an earthquake on the main fault. A probabilistic approach is most viable for fault displacement hazard analysis. Unlike the case of probabilistic ground motion hazard, which is nonzero even for short return periods due to the occurrence of a broad range of earthquake magnitudes in a wide region around the site, probabilistic fault displacement hazard is zero for return periods less than the recurrence interval of surface faulting earthquakes on the fault. In Australia, these recurrence intervals typically lie in the range of 10,000 to 100,000 years.
Consequently, the fault displacement hazard due to primary faulting may be zero or negligible for return periods shorter than 10,000 or 100,000 years. For longer return periods, the hazard is best evaluated using a risk-based approach, as recommended by ANCOLD (2018); the alternative of using a deterministic approach, which disregards return period, could potentially yield a large fault displacement. The probability of triggered secondary faulting, conditional on the occurrence of a large earthquake on the main fault, is typically one or two orders of magnitude lower than that on the main fault, and so is even more likely to be zero or negligible for return periods shorter than 10,000 to 100,000 years
The ANCOLD (2003) Guidelines on Risk Assessment contain criteria regarding the tolerable level of individual risk from dam failure. Maslin et al. (2012) describe an approach to estimating individual risk from dam failure, using exposure factors, warning and evacuation factors, and fatality factors. These factors vary according to the people at risk, the anticipated warning time, the flood severity and the shelter people are likely to be in. Maslin et al. (2012) provide step-by-step instructions, which means their approach can be applied in a consistent manner from dam to dam. However, the recommended fatality factors are based on Graham (1999) and DHS (2011) definitions of high, medium and low severity flooding which have been superseded by the Reclamation Consequence Estimating Methodology (RCEM). Therefore, in this paper modifications to the Maslin et al. (2012) approach are proposed, so that estimates of individual risk from dam failure are consistent with RCEM-based estimates of societal risk. The paper then concludes with two predictions about how the assessment and use of individual risk in Australian dam safety management may change in future.