Applying the Material Point Method to Identify Key Factors Controlling Runout of the Cadia Tailings Dam Failure of 2018
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This thesis examines the 2018 failure of the Northern Tailings Storage Facility at Cadia Valley Operations, located in New South Wales, Australia. First, the importance of examining and understanding failure mechanisms and post failure kinematics is described. Within which we understand that in the current state of affairs it is exceedingly difficult, or nigh impossible to perform without the use of large strain analyses, which have yet to permeate into the industry to a significant degree. Second, the initial construction and state of the dam just prior to failure is defined, with the materials and their properties laid out and discussed in depth as well as our means of modeling their behavior. Third, we validate and discuss our results of the base model of the dam based on key topographic features from initial and post-failure field measurements. After validation, we examine the influences of each of the different materials on the runout, comparing final topographies of different simulations with the actual final topography observed. This study was a valuable method of validating the Material Point Method as a means of modeling large deformations, as well as demonstrating its powerful applications towards catastrophic disaster prevention. The study validates and provides a greater understanding of the event of the Cadia Tailings Storage Facility Failure, and presents a framework of steps to perform similar examination on future tailings dams as a means of providing risk management in the event of failure.
General Audience Abstract
Tailings dams are structures integral to the life cycle of mining and mineral processing. After mining and the processing of mined materials, the leftover material, known as "tailings" are pumped and stored behind these structures, usually indefinitely. These structures are unique because they are usually expanded as additional storage space for these materials is required. Over the past several decades, the rate at which catastrophic or serious tailings dam failures occur out of failures has been on the rise. Because of this, it becomes necessary to better understand the failure and post-failure movements of the dam. This thesis presents one such failure, the Cadia Tailings Dam Failure of 2018, which is located in New South Wales, Australia. It applies the Material Point Method, a numerical method which allows for largestrain deformations, to examine the post-failure mechanism and interpret various influences by the different materials on the final runout. Because of this, the paper provides insights on the importance of understanding large strain analyses, discussing and presenting the incidents of the failure. The model used for reference is validated using topographic and field data taken after the failure, allowing for a comparison with future models which vary the geometry and material characteristics of the event. A procedural plan is proposed to apply to future analyses, allowing for the analysis to be applied to other events and tailings dam structures, for further insight on influences of variability and material properties on post-failure topography and geometry.
- Masters Theses