2020 – Dynamic Analyses for Static Liquefaction Factor of Safety and Triggering Threshold Values in Tailings Storage Facilities Constructed by Upstream Method

Qian Gu, Joshua Chan

Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF) constructed using upstream methods may have static liquefaction risks due to the strain softening behaviour of contractive tailings. Conventional Limit Equilibrium Analyses (LEA) using either peak strength or residual strength fail to address the stress-strain compatibilities between materials at different stages of softening or hardening, resulting in over or underestimating embankment stabilities. Static numerical analyses (Finite Element or Difference) are unable to identify the threshold stability due to their inability to converge close to or beyond equilibrium conditions.

In this study the failure triggering process is modelled with dynamic Finite Element Analyses (FEA) with the stress-softening behaviour of contractive tailings simulated by Norsand Model. The embankment failures are identified by either non-zero residual velocities along downstream face, or a drop in average shear stress along potential failure surfaces under increasing disturbing surface pressure. Threshold disturbing surface pressure estimated using these two methods are in close agreements. Factor of Safety (FoS) values estimated from peak mobilised shear strength are found to be between those estimated using the peak and residual shear strength in LEA. q-p’ stress paths in tailings clearly show the stress ratio increasing towards and beyond instability ratio during undrained triggering process. The developments of zones of shear softening and p’ reduction with increasing undrained disturbances help visualise the failure triggering process.

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