A two-fluid simulation of tailings dam breaching

Petkovsek, G. and Hassan, M. and Lumbroso, D. and Roca, M. (2021) A two-fluid simulation of tailings dam breaching. Mine Water and the Environment, 40. pp. 151-165.

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Official URL: https://rdcu.be/b9jA6


This paper presents the development and application of a dam breach model, EMBREA-MUD, which is suitable for tailings dams. One of the common failure modes for these structures is breaching due to overtopping, which together with the flow of liquefied tailings, is simulated by the proposed model. The model simultaneously computes the outflow of water and tailings from a tailings storage facility and the corresponding growth of the breach opening. Tailings outflows are represented by a separate non-Newtonian viscous layer, which together with a water layer, represent the two fluid components of the model. The third component represents dam material that can be eroded by the shear forces exerted by either water or mud. The water layer also exerts dynamic and erosional forces and can transport solids eroded from either the mud or dam layer. The model was verified against laboratory cases as well as two field cases reported in the literature, the failures of the Mount Polley tailings dam in Canada in 2015 and the Merriespruit dam in South Africa in 1994. The model results agreed well with the recorded narrative of the events, although in the latter case, careful calibration of one of the model parameters was necessary to obtain a good match.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10230-020-00717-3
Uncontrolled Keywords: dam failure; overtopping; non-Newtonian fluid; numerical modelling; tailings
Subjects: Earth observation > General
Floods > General
Divisions: Floods
Depositing User: Helen Stevenson
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2020 13:37
Last Modified: 03 Sep 2021 10:13
URI: http://eprints.hrwallingford.com/id/eprint/1442

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