Characterisation of pore pressure in a tailings dam and the implications for design

Mine waste geotechnics, geochemistry and biology


David Johns


Klohn Crippen Berger

This paper discusses pore pressures in the embankments of tailings dams by comparing real world data with common design assumptions. Assessment of pore pressures has implications on material behaviour interpretation from CPT investigations and, therefore, on the design. For example, the assumption of hydrostatic pressure is conservative for limit equilibrium stability analyses but may be un-conservative in assessing the potential for contractive behaviour and strength loss during shearing. This paper presents some real world data, the investigation methods to determine the pore pressures, and subsequent interpretation of CPT data and material parameters such as the state parameter. It also examines the design implications of assuming a hydrostatic pressure distribution, by comparing results from that assumption with those obtained using the real pore pressures.

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