Simulation and modelling strategies for reliability analysis of tailings dams
Matthias Schönhardt, Robert-Balthasar Wudtke and Karl Josef Witt

Probabilistic methods allow the analysis and quantification of the reliability of structures which may pose geological and geotechnical hazards. To assess the safety of tailings ponds and their supporting dams, it is necessary to quantify the key geometrical and geotechnical parameters, including their variability and uncertainty, in order to establish a probable geotechnical model of the impoundment. Two models are presented: an analytical method relying on tailings deposition information, and a geological model based on geostatistical analysis. Both strategies can use different types of site investigation data and geological impoundment models with a number of homogeneous layers.

For each of these layers, the uncertain parameters are defined and distributed quantitatively and spatially. Numerical or analytical assessments allow the identification of critical areas and limiting states for a given impoundment. The resulting parameter distribution and parameter uncertainty distribution are a prerequisite for further decisions concerning, for example, tailings deposition management 
or site rehabilitation actions.

Key words: aleatory uncertainty, critical limiting state, epistemic uncertainty, geological model, geostatistical analysis, homogeneous areas, kriging variance, natural variability, pollution transport, random variability, sliding of slope, tailings impoundment

Land Contamination & Reclamation, 15 (2), 183-193 (2007)

DOI 10.2462/09670513.848

© 2007 EPP Publications Ltd

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Article code 848