Dam break analysis applied to tailings dams
27 February 2013
USSD workshop summary and perspectives
The United States Society on Dams' Tailings Dams Committee organized a workshop in August 2011 that included two days of presentations and discussions on the topic of dam break analysis applied to tailings dams and possible applications to other slurried waste impoundments. The workshop presentations covered the following main topics:
- Regulatory aspects of dam break analysis applied to tailings dams
- Predictive models and available software
- Failure modes
- Tailings flow modeling after a potential dam break
A survey was developed and distributed to state and federal dam safety officials to seek feedback on regulatory aspects of dam break analysis applied to tailings dams.
The manuscript provides a workshop summary that can be seen as the framework for a “state-of-practice” document. The purpose(s) of break analysis, methods used, and documentation of important assumptions are addressed. Commentary citing concerns raised during and after the workshop are also included as it was clear that our ability to conduct accurate and realistic dam break analyses is limited. This manuscript also attempts to outline directions for the focus of future research and development projects with the goal of establishing more realistic methods for tailings dam break analysis.