DOI: 10.3390/app132312859 ISSN: 2076-3417

Numerical Simulation of Seepage Surface and Analysis of Phreatic Line Control from a Fine-Grained Tailings High Stacked Dam under Complicated Geography Conditions

Yabing Han, Guangjin Wang, Xudong Zhang, Bing Zhao
  • Fluid Flow and Transfer Processes
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Process Chemistry and Technology
  • General Engineering
  • Instrumentation
  • General Materials Science

Background: It is adverse for the safety of a tailings dam to use fine-grained tailings as the materials for a high tailings dam because of the low penetration coefficient, the slow consolidating velocity, and the bad physical mechanical property. Furthermore, with the influence of complicated geography conditions, the phreatic line will be increased enormously when encountering special conditions, which directly affect the safe operation of the tailings dam. Methods: In this study, based on the engineering, geological, and hydrogeological conditions and survey results of a tailings dam, a 210 m fine-grained tailings dam located in three gullies was selected and used to simulate the three-dimensional seepage field of a tailings dam under a steady saturated state by using the finite element software MIDAS GTS. The permeability coefficient was inverted, the seepage field of the project under different working conditions was simulated, and the position of the phreatic line was obtained. The controlled position of phreatic lines was determined by combining the seepage field with the stability requirements. Results: Back analysis could accurately reflect the actual permeability coefficient of each partition of tailings dams. Due to the multiple areas of seepage accumulation, large valley corners, and narrowing of the dam axis, the phreatic line of the shoulder region was elevated by 2~3 m compared to the surrounding area and was thereby the most critical region of the tailings dam seepage control. The stability requirements and minimum controlled position of the phreatic line requirements could be met when the controlled position of the phreatic line was 23 m. Conclusion: This study revealed the key areas and reasons why the tailings dam’s phreatic line is prone to be uplifted under complicated geography conditions. It was very critical to control the local phreatic line by adopting local horizontal seepage drainage measures or radiation wells in the key areas of the tailings dam to ensure the safety of the tailings dam. In addition to strengthening the daily monitoring of the key areas and the exfiltration facilities of the tailings dam, it is recommended to carry out determination tests of the permeability coefficient and particle size at regular intervals. The findings could provide countermeasures for seepage control.

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