Novel technology to prevent toxic dam collapse
Tailings dams are large structures created by the storage of byproducts after mineral extraction. The failure rates of tailings dams are extremely high worldwide, leading to the loss of many lives and significant environmental damage. One of the main causes of dam collapses is slope instability, commonly triggered by the liquefaction phenomenon. Accurate evaluation of geotechnical parameters is a crucial input for an effective liquefaction risk assessment and for the stability analysis of large structures. Soil characterization technology require considerable improvement to decrease the uncertainty deriving by current testing equipment. The innovative solution proposed by the EU-funded Medusa project is a geotechnical testing device that measures directly key soil properties with impressively higher accuracy and repeatability, compared to existing tools. The obtained soil parameters provide a clear site picture, necessary for liquefaction risk assessment and stability analysis. This novel testing technology may become the new standard for routine safety tests in tailings dams.
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