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ANALYSES OF FLOW FAILURES


OF MINE TAILINGS DAMS
By Jey K. Jeyapalan, 1 J. Michael Duncan, 2 Members, ASCE,
and H. Bolton Seed, 2 F. ASCE
ABSTRACT: A characteristic common to most tailings dam failures is that the
mine tailings tend to liquefy and flow over substantial distances, with potential
for extensive damage to property and life. In order to be able to assess the
potential for damage in case of such failure, it is necessary to be able to predict
the characteristics of the flow and the possible extent of flood movement. This
paper presents analytical procedures for making such evaluations. The behavior
of tailings materials during flow is represented by a Bingham plastic rheological
model in these analysis procedures. It is apparent from the analyses that the
flow of phosphate tailings would be expected to be turbulent but flows for
other types of tailings would be expected to be laminar. The procedures described are applicable for flow of tailings on horizontal and sloping planes and
in prismatic valleys. The analyses can be performed using dimensionless charts
in the case of flow on planes, and a computer program in the case of flow in
prismatic valleys.
INTRODUCTION

Thousands of large and small mine waste piles and impoundments


which have received no significant engineering attention are scattered
throughout the United States and other parts of the world. Because of
the poor quality of construction and maintenance, many of these dams
have failed, and the existence of these potentially hazardous impoundments is of considerable concern to the public and to the mining industries. A characteristic common to most tailings dam failures is that
the mine tailings tend to liquefy and flow over substantial distances,
with the potential for extensive damage to property and life. Failures of
El Cobre Dam, Chile (1965), at Aberfan, Wales (1966), and the Mochikoshi Dam, Japan (1978) are examples of such catastrophic dam incidents. In these four incidents, 350 lives were lost, and the loss of property was approx $150 million.
In order to be able to assess the potential for damage should a failure
occur, it is necessary to predict the characteristics of the flow and the
possible extent of flood movement. Reporting suitable procedures for
'Asst. Prof, of Civ. Engrg., Texas A&M Univ., College Station, Tex.
2
Prof. of Civ. Engrg., Univ. of Calif., Berkeley, Calif.
Note.Discussion open until July 1, 1983. Separate discussions should be submitted for the individual papers in this symposium. To extend the closing date
one month, a written request must be filed with the ASCE Manager of Technical
and Professional Publications. The manuscript for this paper was submitted for
review and possible publication on September 1, 1981. This paper is part of the
Journal of Geotechnical Engineering, Vol. 109, No. 2, February, 1983. ASCE,
ISSN 0733-9410/83/0002-0150/$01.00. Proc. No. 17714.
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J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

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such analyses is the purpose of this paper. It should be noted, however,


that the possibility of a flow failure occurring at a tailings dam is a direct
function of the type of construction method used at the mining operation. It is well-recognized by the geotechnical engineers that the upstream method of construction results in the weakest tailing impoundment structure. The analysis procedures reviewed in the following
sections of this paper are applicable once an overall instability of the
dam develops.
There are a number of different approaches to preparing inundation
maps for dams that store water. The flow resulting from the breach of
such a dam is turbulent. Therefore, boundary resistance must be included in the analyses using the empirical Manning's relationship. There
are computer programs commercially available for determining inundation areas, based on this approach, e.g., Gradually Varied Flow Profile
Program (GVFP) (3) and Fread (2). Unfortunately, these analysis techniques cannot be used for analyses of flow failure of most mine tailings
because the nature of the flow of liquified tailings is typically laminar,
as will be studied.
Problems of debris and sediment flows, as recognized by engineers
and geologists, have some similarities with the flow of mine tailings.
Morgenstern (13) proposed a visco-frictional steady state uniform flow
model for the flow of submarine sediments. However, because the flow
profile in the case of liquefied tailings dams changes rather rapidly during the initial stages of the flow, Morgenstern's work cannot be used
effectively for tailings flow analyses. Johnson (10) and later Johnson and
Hampton (11) reported studies of subaerial and subaqueous debris flows
in various prismatic channel geometries. However, because their results
apply only to uniform steady state conditions, they are not useful for
studying tailings dam failures in which the initial unsteady nature of the
flow and the final freezing aspects of the flow are important.
Hutchinson and Bhandari (8) studied the causes of mudflows and concluded that the build-up of high pore water pressure is the primary
mechanism of such mudslides. No detailed analyses of the flow characteristics of mudflows are reported in their work. Okuda, et al. (15,
16,17) carried out extensive field instrumentation of debris flows in motion on the eastern slopes of Mount Yake in the North Japan Alps. They
used an automatic measurement system to record flow velocities, dynamic impact forces, and discharge magnitudes. Most of the debris
flows they studied ranged from boulder to clay sizes, which is a much
wider range of grain-size distribution than that for mine tailings. Therefore, the results cannot be directly applied to the behavior of mine
tailings.
Bruckl and Scheidegger (1) applied Nye's (14) approach of treating
mudflows as a problem in plasticity. They characterized the mud as a
Mohr-Coulomb material, and solved the flow of mud on a constant slope
using Prandtl's solution of the plastostatic equations (Hill, (7)). Inertial
and viscous effects were not included in their study; for this reason, the
approach of using plasticity solutions cannot be applied to the case of
flow of liquefied tailings. Scheidegger (19) and later Korner (12) also considered the problems of predicting the potential reach and velocity of
catastrophic landslides. Most of their work treated the debris as a sliding
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J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

solid mass, and, therefore, the results cannot be applied to the flow of
saturated liquefied tailings.

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DlMENSIONLESS NUMBERS AND ASSOCIATED FLOW REGIMES

A number of the concepts of fluid flow have been found to be useful


for analysis of the flow of mine tailings. It is known that the characteristics of flow in an open channel vary with the velocity of flow. When
the velocity is below a certain critical value, the flow remains laminar,
and when the velocity is above the critical value, the flow is found to
become turbulent. The change from laminar to turbulent flow results in
a large increase in the flow resistance and also in a change in the manner
in which friction loss varies with mean velocity. A Reynolds number of
the order of 2,000 is accepted as the critical value, above which the flow
becomes turbulent in the case of Newtonian fluids.
The flow behavior of liquefied mine tailings is better approximated by
that of a Bingham Plastic Fluid, which has a yield stress Ty and a plastic
viscosity T)P, as shown in Fig. 1. The Reynolds number for this type of
material can be expressed by

R-2^

(i)

where R = Reynolds number; 7 = unit weight; U = flow velocity; hR


= hydraulic radius; g = acceleration due to gravity, and t\a = apparent
viscosity. Because the apparent viscosity is a function of the shearing
rate as shown in Fig. 2, it is expressed by the relationship
T\a=\

+ 1* . . .
7

(2)

Hanks and Pratt (4) made a detailed analysis of a large amount of


published experimental data and proposed the chart shown in Fig. 3 for
determining the transition conditions for Bingham plastic fluids. In this

SHEAR STRAIN RATE - i

FIG. t.Characteristics of Bingham Plastic Fluid


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Tl - SHEAR STRAIN RATE (RAD/SEC)

FIG. 2.Apparent Viscosity Model for Bingham Plastic Fluid

chart, the critical Reynold's number, RcriHcai, for transition from turbulent
to laminar flow is expressed in terms of the Hedstrom number where
H = the Hedstrom number = - JL
8$
4 1 .
3 3 '

(3)

(4)

(5)
oundary

and Ty = Bingham shear strength; r\p = plastic viscosity and


^boundary

boundary shear stress. For a given flow condition, the dimensionless


numbers R and H are computed; if these values define a point below
the critical line given in Fig. 3, the flow is laminar.
Typical ranges of various parameters, such as flow velocities, depths
of flow, total unit weights, yield strengths, and plastic viscosities for
liquefied mine tailings are given in Table 1. The probable values for
maximum and minimum values of the dimensionless parameters, Reynolds number, and Hedstrom number, are also listed in Table 1. The
resulting values for phosphate tailings and other types of tailings are
plotted on Fig. 3.
It is apparent from this plot that the flow of phosphate tailings would
153

J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

106
ESTIMATED RANGE FOR^
PHOSPHATE TAILINGS

105

TURBULENT

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10"

= 10 3
9

LAMINAR

-ESTIMATED RANGE FOR


OTHER LIQUEFIED TAILINGS

ioi

10 2

10 3

1011
HEDSTROM NUMBER

10 5

10 6

FIG. 3.Variation of Critical Reynolds Number with Hedstrom Number

be expected to be turbulent, but flows for other types of tailings would


be expected to be laminar. Flow characteristics differ considerably for
laminar flow and turbulent flow. In laminar flow, the boundary layer
is deep, the frictional force is independent of the boundary characteristics, and is proportional to the flow velocity. In turbulent flow, the
boundary layer is shallow, the frictional force is dependent on the
boundary roughness, and increases with the square of the velocity.
Thus, the analysis procedure for the flow characteristics in the laminar
regime (most tailings) will be different from those applicable for turbulent flow (phosphate tailings).
ANALYSES FOR LAMINAR FLOW (TAILINGS OTHER THAN PHOSPHATE)

For the purpose of analyzing the laminar flow of materials with


Bingham plastic fluid characteristics, it is useful to express the fluid resistance to viscous forces in the form of a total boundary shear stress,
which opposes the flow. This boundary resistance term can be computed using a dimensionless friction factor, /, expressed as follows:
r
;

'boundary

"

7^

(6)
"
average flow velocity. Hedstrom (5) proposed the follow-

in which U =

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J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

TABLE 1.Summary of Flow Parameters of Typical Liquefied Tailings


Probable
Probable
minimum value maximum value
(2)
(3)
(4)
(D
Phosphate tailings total unit weight, in pounds
80
100
per cubic ft
yield strength, in pounds
4.0 X 10~4
4.0 x 10~2
per square foot
plastic viscosity, in pounds
2.0 x KT4
2.0 x 10~2
per second per square foot
flow depth, in feet
2
5
flow velocity, in feet per
5
50
second
Reynolds number
4.0 x 104
2.0 x 105
3
Hedstrom number
8.0 x 10
1.0 x 105
Other tailings
total unit weight, in pounds
110
90
per cubic foot
yield strength, in pounds
20
150
per square foot
plastic viscosity, in pounds
2
100
per second per square foot
flow depth, in feet
5
50
flow velocity, in feet per
5
20
second
Reynolds number
10
300
Hedstrom number
100
350

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Type of tailings

Parameter

ing relationship for determining the friction factors of Bingham type


fluids:
16 8H_16H^ I
~ R + 3R 2 3R8 ' f

(7)

where R = Reynolds number; and H = Hedstrom number.


This highly nonlinear implicit relationship for the frictional factor can
be represented in the form of a chart as shown in Fig. 4. The friction
factors increase rapidly with increasing values of the Hedstrom number
and with decreasing values of the Reynolds number. When the yield
strength of the fluid is zero, H is also zero, and the chart gives friction
factors that apply to Newtonian fluids expressed by the relation
1

(8)

Flow on Planar Surfaces.For purposes of analyzing the configuration of a flow slide released from a tailings deposit, the deposit may be
represented schematically as a body of fluid material with a vertical face
as shown in Fig. 5(a). The configuration at some time t after the initiation
of flow will have the general form shown in Fig. 5(b).
The one-dimensional momentum conservation equation for flow of
such a viscous fluid in a wide rectangular sloping channel is
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J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

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vA3 V l
10* -

V5

^ X \ \

\6

NEWTONIAN-'
FLUID

1
2
3
1
5

\7

0,1

1.0

He = 1 0 " 1

He = 10
He - 1 0 1
He = 1 0 2

He = 1 0 3

He = lO* 1

\ \

\
X\

10"'

He - 0 ,

10
REYNOLDS NUMBER

100

1000

FIG. 4.Friction Factors for Bingham Plastic Fluids

du*
du*
dc*
+ u*- + 2c* + 5g(Sf-s
=0
0)
W
dt*
dx*
dx*
"'
and the mass conservation equation is
. du*
dc*
dc*
c* - + 2 + 2u* = 0
dx*
dt*
dx*

(9)

(10)

in which u* is flow velocity; c* is celerity, given by {gh*)vl; and t* =


(a)

(b)

| TAILINGS DEPOSIT
H 0 (LIQUEFIED WITH
BINGHAM FLOW
CHARACTERISTICS)
Tfism

~w

H,

FIG. .Definition Sketch for Flow of Liquefied Tailing


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J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

time; h* = flow depth; and x* = horizontal coordinate. Further details


are given in Henderson (6). The terms s^and s0 are referred to as friction
slope and bed slope, in which
s = sin p
(lid)

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and

/=^

(H6)

in which C = Chezy coefficient; h* = flow depth; and p = bed slope


angle. The Chezy coefficient is related to the friction factor by the
relation

? =J

(12)

and for laminar flow of Newtonian fluids of viscosity i\, the friction factor is given by
,

/ =

I6
R

where

(13

u*hy
R=

>

(14)

ng

Using Eqs. 12-14, the friction slope sf in (lib) can be written as


2TIH*
S

(15)

I=W

The Bingham fluid model characteristics can be introduced in Eq. 15 by


redefining the viscosity as an equivalent linear viscosity i\a given by
% = Up + ^

(16)

The boundary shear strain rate, y, for a parabolic velocity distribution


with maximum velocity, u*, and flow depth, h*, is given by
2u*
"

'

( 1 7

>

Using Eqs. 16 and 17, the friction slope in Eq. 15 can be written for
Bingham fluids as
<18>

* - & + $

Thus, for materials with Bingham fluid characteristics, the governing


equations can be written using s0 and s^ from Eqs. llfl and 18, as
du*
du*
dc* 2-n.M*? T?
- + u* + 2c* - + -2- 2 + -* - 6gsin Hp = 0
at*
dx*
dx*
yh*
yh*

K(19)

du*
dc*
dC*
and c*- + 2 + 2u* - = 0
dx*
dt*
dx*

v(20)

'

'

Using a group of dimensionless variables


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J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

X*

x=~

(21a)

h*
h =~

(21b)

"a

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c*
VgHo
u*
u = 7=

(21d)

VgH0

(21e)

t = r\l&
'JL

R=2

^l

and s

{2l8)

=5:

in which H0 = initial height of dam. The governing Eqs. 19 and 20 can


be written in dimensionless form:
du
du dc
u S
+ u + 2c + R-j4 + ^2- s i n B = 0
(22)
Sx
dx
dx
c c
and

du
dc
dc
c + 2 + 2w = 0
dx
dt
dx

(23)

These equations can be solved (Appendix I) to determine the following general solutions for the flow velocity u and the height of the fluid
material in terms of the horizontal distance x, the time t, and the dimensionless resistance parameters R and S as follows:
2 ,
2 sin p t
s
- y(1 + m) +
3
'
3
+

30Rt
22(2-m) 3

/lOsinpf
V 15

1
and c(x,t,R) = - ((2 - mm)
3
'
+

21Rt
22(2 - m)3

in which

(7 sin p t
\ 15

27St
7(2 -mf

3St
7

10RA/2
198/V3

216(1 + m) Rt
~
11(2 - m)4
m'
3J

3/2

(24(?)

sin fit _ 3Sf 27(1 + m)Rt

+ ^ /n
4
~~30
lb" + 11(2 - m)4
3St
10

7RA/2 m\ 3/2
198j\3 ~ 3"/

m =-

(24&)

(24c)
158

J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

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FIG. 6.Variation of Velocity Function with Time and Location

The dimensionless flow depth at a desired location x is determined by


the relation
h(x,t) = c2(x,t,R)

(25)

and the flow velocity at this section is given by Eq. 24A. These perturbed
solutions give approximate values of the flow velocity and depth at all
sections of the disturbed free mass as functions of time, provided the
parameter, R, is sufficiently small.
After the break of the dam, for later instance of time, tlt t2, etc., the
flow depth is increased by the presence of viscous boundary resistance;
consequently, the flow velocity is decreased, as shown in Fig. 6. In fact,
because of the presence of the frictional terms in the Eq. 24a, the velocity
indicates an apparent negative value near m = 2. This physically un-

-1

VELOCITY FUNCTION FROM PERTURBED SOLUTIONS


uCrn.t)

"11

s/Z-^ -

"T2
"T3

"TC

-1

in

VELOCITY FUNCTION USED IN THE ANALYSES

FIG. 7.Velocity Function Used in the Analyses


159

J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

PSEUDO STEADY STATE SOLUTION

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t|

t2

13

tc

VARIATION OF TIP VELOCITY WITH TIME

1|
<!
'3
tc
I
VARIATION OF TIP DISPLACEMENT WITH TINE

FIG. 8.Variations of Tip Velocity and Displacement with Time

acceptable result is due to the incompleteness of the perturbation procedure used in deriving the solutions for Eqs. 22 and 23. This could be
avoided by introducing another boundary layer in the coordinate direction m. This rather difficult procedure was not attempted; instead, it was
decided to adopt the procedure described later.
In the tip region, the viscous forces and the pressure forces are of the
same order of magnitude. Therefore, the velocity of flow does not
change appreciably in this region. Thus, the maximum value of the velocity function is a good representation of the tip velocity, as shown in
Fig. 7. These maximum velocities at different instants of time after the
break of the dam have been plotted against time, as shown in Fig. 8.
The corresponding tip displacement history can be evaluated using a
numerical integration procedure, as indicated in Fig. 8. The results of
this type of analysis are applicable to the early stages of flow. At some
time, tc, when the location of the section which has the maximum flow
velocity has moved backward to the dam axis, the results become
questionable.
The velocities and displacements of the tip were calculated using the
procedure outlined in the previous section, until the location of maximum velocity reached the dam axis. The time when this occurs is denoted as tc.
Determination of Surface Profile of Tailings Flow.The procedure
for determining the free surface profile at any time after the release of
a fluid tailings deposit is shown in Fig. 9. The disturbed portion of the
fluidized material is subdivided into two zones I and II. Zone II occupies
the region from the position of maximum flow velocity to the zone of
quiet, whereas zone I represents the tip region, in which the velocity
is assumed to be constant. The free surface profile in zone II is given
by
fc(x,0 = c2(x,t,R)-H0

(26)

in which c(x,t,R) was given in Eq. 24b. In zone I, the viscous resistance
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J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

ZONE II
' USING EXPRESSION (25)

ZONE I
USING EXPRESSION (28)

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Mi

r"

"""N
X*

* * |

u(m,t)

TSt-

tj

FIG. 9.Procedure for Calculating Free Surface Profile

and the pressure gradient are approximately equal. The equation governing the depth of flow is
dff
dx*'

(27)

yh*2

and on integration
(28)

h*(x) = h*r

in which x* = the location of maximum flow velocity; h* - the depth


of flow at this section; and x* = the displacement of the tip as shown
in Fig. 9.
These equations are reasonable only until the location of the maximum
velocity of flow reaches the axis of the dam, at time tc, as noted previously. After tc, a simple pseudo-steady state model was used for evaluating the tip velocity. Using the free surface profile shown in Fig. 10,
at time tc, the tip velocity is calculated using the pressure gradient yH0/
L and an average depth of flow, ha, of the disturbed material, using the
following equation:
yh2aH0

(29)

FIG. 10.Pseudo-Steady State Flow Model


161

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2,0
F

__

1\\

R = S = 0,001
R = S = 0,002
R = S = 0,005

xv

l\\\
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nit)

"o

R = S = 0,010

-\\\^GL

KS:

2 50

100

200

300

t- DIMENSIONLESS TIME

FIG. 11.Typical Dam-Break Solutions

Using this velocity over a time interval At, a new tip displacement and
the resulting flow profile were calculated. The updated flow profile was
then used in calculating the tip velocity for the subsequent time interval.
This procedure was repeated until the calculated tip velocity was found
to be zero. At this stage, the flow was considered "frozen."
Using this procedure, a number of calculations were performed,
changing the values of R and S over the expected range of interest. Fig.
11 shows some variations of tip velocity and displacement with these
dimensionless resistance parameters and with dimensionless time t for
the case when R = S.
These results can also be plotted as isolines of inundation distance,
Xf, and freezing time, tf, for various combinations of R and S, as shown
in Figs. 12 and 13. By knowing the parameters, H0, -i\p, tyl and -y for a
given tailings impoundment, the dimensionless parameters R and S can
be calculated as shown by Eqs. 21. For these values of R and S, the
dimensionless inundation distance and the freezing time can be determined from the charts in Figs. 12 and 13. The values of inundation distance, freezing time, and mean velocity can then be readily obtained
using the relations
xf = xfxH0

(30)
(31)
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J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

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0.002

FIG.

0,004
0,006 ' 0,008
R - VISCOUS PARAMETER

0.010

12.Variation of Inundation Distance with Resistance Parameter

0,010

0,008

0,006

0,0014

0,002

0,002

FIG.

0,001
0,006
R - VISCOUS PARAMETER

0,008

0,010

13.Variation of Freeiing Time with Resistance Parameter

163

J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

(32)

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*;

in which xf, tf, u*m are dimensional variables and x,,


'/' t,7 'are dimensionless
results obtained from the charts.
An Example Problem.The potential use of the above dimensionless
prediction charts will be illustrated by a sample application. A tailings
impoundment will be analyzed with the following: H0 = 50 ft (15.25 m);
7 = 100 lb/cu ft (1,601 kg/m 3 ); f]p = 20 lb sec/sq ft (557.6 Pa s); and Ty
= 20 lb/sq ft (87.64 kg/m 2 ). The dimensionless resistance parameters R
and S are calculated as follows:
2X 20
100 x 50

"-
and

S=

20

yH0

100 x 50

= 0.0064,
= 0.0040

(33)

Using R = 0.0064 and S = 0.0040, the dimensionless inundation distance, Xf, and freezing time, tf, can be obtained as shown in Figs. 12
and 13; these are xf = 27 and t, = 75. Dimensional results can be obtained by using Eqs. 30-32 as follows: xf = 27 x 50 = 1,350 ft (47.25 m);
tf = 75 x V50/32.2 = 93 sec; and u*m = 1,350/93 = 15 fps (4.575 m/s).
Similar dimensionless charts have also been prepared for flow of liquefied mine tailings on a sloping bed. A sloping bed gives rise to extra
driving force in the momentum equation. Charts for bed slopes (3 = 2,
4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 are presented in Jeyapalan (9).
Flow Down Prismatic Valleys.The previous analyses considered
only the case of one-dimensional flows across the planes or wide valleys.
In many instances, liquefied tailings have flowed down narrow valleys
which would not be represented accurately as wide channels, and it is
desirable to be able to analyze flows of this type. In order to extend the
solutions to problems of this nature, the three types of prismatic crosssections shown in Fig. 14 were considered. Hydraulic depth, hH, and
hydraulic radius, hR, were used instead of actual depth, h, in order to
include the effects of the side boundaries. The geometrical parameters
for the various valley cross sections are listed in Table 2. The depth parameters hH and hR are related to the actual depth, h, by the relations

RECTANGLE

TRIANGLE

FIG. 14.Prismatic Channel Cross-Sections


164

J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

TABLE 2.Geometrical Parameters for Various Valley Sections

(D

Flow Area,
A
(2)

Top Width,
B
(3)

Wetted
perimeter, P
(4)

Hydraulic
depth, hH
(5)

Hydraulic
radius, hR
(6)

Wide rectangle
Deep rectangle
Triangle
Parabola

h
Bh
Snh1
2Bh/3

1
B
2sHh
B

1
B + 2h
2h(l + sj,)1'2
Pi

h
h
ft/2
2/i/3

h
Bh/(B + 2/i)
sHh/2(l + s2,)"2

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Section

Note: sH = side slope; hR = 2Bh/3py Pl = B/2 [1 + pl + 1/p In (p + 1 + p2)] in which p


= 4h/B.
tin
i
- p = a2
h

,
and

hH .
- 2 = 9 + 9jC
hR

(34)

in which a, 90/ and 9j are flow parameters given in Table 3.


The geometrical parameters given in Table 2 were used to calculate
the flow parameters a, 90, and Bv which are listed in Table 3 for the four
valley sections considered.
The governing equations and the solution procedures are examined
in Appendix II. Analyses of the flow of liquefied tailings in prismatic
valleys can be accomplished using a computer program (TFLOW) which
is based on the solutions in Appendix II.
ANALYSES OF TURBULENT FLOWS (PHOSPHATE TAILINGS)

Whether a flow will be laminar or turbulent can be determined using


the Hanks and Pratt criterion described in a previous section of this paper. If the flow will be turbulent, as is likely with fluid tailings materials,
such as phosphate tailings, existing flood routing computer programs
(GVFP (3) and FREAD (2)) can be used for the analyses. These programs
for turbulent flow analysis incorporate resistance to flow through the
use of the empirical Manning's n relationship rather than friction factors
or fluid viscosity. Values of Manning's n have been determined by laboratory tests using water, and it is not clear whether these same values
are applicable when the fluid involved in the turbulent flow is not water.
At the present time, it appears that the best approach may be to use
slightly higher values for Manning's n than those applicable for water,
for purposes of analyzing flows of somewhat more viscous fluids, such
as phosphate tailings.
TABLE 3.Flow Parameters for Various Valley Sections

Section

(D

a
(2)

6o
(3)

6i
(4)

Wide rectangle
Deep rectangle
Triangle
Parabola

1.00
1.00
0.71
0.82

1.00
1.00
(1 + 1/s*,)1'2
1.00

0.00
HJB
0.00
K*

a
K = {l/2[p - In (<? + p)/q] - \}/a2m, in which pm = (1 + cf)m; q = 2 HJB;
and Bh = width of channel at half the height of dam.

165

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CONCLUSIONS

Instances of flow failures of mine tailings impoundments indicate that


the failure of these structures has considerable potential for damage to
life and property in many cases. The behavior of tailings materials during flow can be represented with reasonable accuracy by the Bingham
plastic rheological model. The currently available computer programs
(GVFP (3) and FREAD (2)) can be used without modification for analyses
of potential inundation zones likely to result from turbulent flows of
fluid tailings, such as phosphate tailings and the water and coal waste
which flowed at Buffalo Creek.
The analysis procedures described in the preceding pages can be used
for analyses of flow failures in more highly viscous tailings which
undergo laminar flow. These procedures are applicable for flow of tailings on horizontal and sloping planes and in prismatic valleys. The analyses can be performed using dimensionless charts in the case of flow
on planes, and by means of a computer program (TFLOW) in the case
of flow in prismatic valleys.
While this paper presents only the analytical procedure for determining the configuration of tailings flows, flow velocities, and flow displacements it may be noted that the ability of the analyses to provide useful
results has been confirmed by means of flume experiments in the laboratory and by using the procedure to evaluate the extent of flow in
several cases of actual flow slides from tailings deposits. A description
of these checks on the usefulness of the analysis procedure will be the
subject of a separate paper.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This research study was sponsored by the Spokane Research Center


of the U.S. Bureau of Mines. The writers gratefully acknowledge the
technical assistance of Roy Soderberg and Dan Kealy. The senior author
had several fruitful, much appreciated conversations with Professor J.
L. Hammack, Jr., Dr. Ian M. Smith, Dr. Ricardo Dobry, and Dr. Gonzalo
Castro. Ms. Nancy Hoes typed the manuscript and Mrs. Cindy Adams
drafted the figures.
APPENDIX I.PERTURBATION SOLUTIONS FOR THE FLOW OF LIQUEFIED
TAILINGS FROM BREACHED DAMS ON PLANAR SURFACES

For small values of R, the solutions to these equations can be written


in the form
u(x,t,R) = u0 + Ri + R2u2 +

(35)

c(x,t,R) =c0 + Rcj + R c2 +

(36)

Using Eqs. 35 and 36 in Eqs. 22 and 23 gives by equating order R" terms
dU0

dUa

dCn

-? + u0-2 + 2c0-? = 0
St

and c

dx
dU0

(37)

dX

+2

dcn

+ 2M

dCn

^=0

<38>
166

J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

The solutions of Eqs. 37 and 38 are the inviscid Ritter (18) solutions given
by

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U = 1+

l{ l)
Co= 2
i( -f)

(39)

(40)

Using Eqs. 35, 36, 39, and 40 in Eqs. 22 and 23 gives by equating order
R1 terms

a "i

J,

du

A 3Ci

3 .

3 + - ! + 2 1 + - - - c , + 2 2 - - - - - sin p
dt t
\
t) dx t
\
tj dx R
162^1 + -)
\
t

3S

, 2
/
x\ du,
dc,
and - C l + 2 - - + 6
t
\
t) dx
dt

2u,
(
x\ 3c,
-+4 1+- =0
t
\
t) dx

(42)

With a transformation
m=

*-

(43)

u^(x,t) = U(m,t)

(44)

cfat) = C(m,t)

(45)

the Eqs. 41 and 42 become


aiT
U (2-m)dU
3 + 2- +
dt
t
t
dm
+ 162(1 + m)

2C
(2-m)8C
+2
t
t
m

3 .
sin p
R

3S_

"I
(2-m)J2 ++ ,
R(2-mf,2 = 0

()

2C (2 - m) SIT , aC
(2 - m) dC
and + - + 6 + 2f
t
dm
dt
t
dm

17 n
2- =0
t

(47)

Using a second transformation


U(m,t) = P(m) -t

(48)

C(m,t) = Q(m) -t

(49)

the Eqs. 46 and 47 will reduce to


(2-

dP
dQ
3
162(1 + m)
) - + 2 ( 2 - O T ) ^ + 5P-2Q--smp +
^ - ^
167

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3S
+ ~
V2 = 0
R(2 - mf

(50)

and

(2 - m) + 2(2 - m) - ^ - 2P + 8Q = 0
dm
dm
with boundary conditions

(51)

P(-l) = 0

(52)

and

Q ( - l ) = - ^

.(53)

These ordinary differential equations can be solved for P(m) and Q(m)
with the specified boundary conditions; the solutions are
2 sin (3
~~3R

27S
216(1 + m)
2
7R(2 - m) ~ 11(2 - m)4

10 sin p 3S
10\/2
m\
1
+
15R
7R 198/\3 3 /
- s i n p _ 3S_ 27(1 + m)
3QR
WR + 11(2 - mf

30
22(2 - mf
(54fl)

21
22(2 - m)3

^_ji+_LV?_r
15R

10R

198/\3

(54 & )

3/

APPENDIX II.PERTURBATION SOLUTIONS FOR THE FLOW OF LIQUEFIED


TAILINGS FROM BREACHED DAMS IN PRISMATIC VALLEYS

The one-dimensional momentum conservation equation for the flow


of a viscous fluid in a prismatic rectangular, triangular, or parabolic
channel is
du*
du* 2c* dc*
- + *- + -^-+ g(sf - s0) = 0
at*
Bx* a2 dx* 5 W
'

, x
(55)

and the mass conservation equation is


dA*
du*
8A*
- + A* + u*
=0
dt*
dx*
dx*

(56)
'

in which A* = the area of flow, and


2 = f

(57)

Using a dimensionless group


_ x*
H

_h*
H0'

_. c*
C

VgH^'
168

J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

M*

2i\v

/to

Eqs. 55 a n d 56 can be written in dimensionless form

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du

du

and

2c dc

dC

Ru

dU

dC

2 + a2c + 2w = 0
dt
dx
dx

v(60)
;

For small values of R, the solutions to these equations can be written


in the form
u(x,t,R) = u0 + Rut + R2u2 +

(61)

c(x,t,R) = c0 + Rci + R c2 +

(62)

The solutions for u0 a n d q, are


u0 = 2pi +

(63)

c0 = flU - Pi^J

(64)

in which

P,

- ,

_2_
^

a =

(65)

/ 2 i

(66)

( a + 2)

'

The general solutions could be written as


u(x,t,R)

= (2Pi + am) + P(m) Rt

(67)

c(x,t,R) = a(a - p t m) + Q(tn) Rt

(68)

in which

and

am)

.
, . ,
in which

P(m) = CA-)

- I

Pl

- fil^

....

a2-Pi _ a(a2 + 6) p 2
+ ^8 - T 16(a
r d2 r+ r2)

= D,

cX'
2a)

pi =

s i n p , M0(eo + 9ic0)2 , S(eo + 6iC0)


- +
j
+
2

eg

sin p

s e0

s e1

eD u0

a e2

PiRi

R5^Pi

PiRfl 3 c 0

PiCofl9

P 2 fl 7 9<^

2 9M0
Pi^a7

2 9 0 e t a |
2

P a 5 fl 7 c^

Rq

%\u0
2

PiC fl5

9a
2

P %sC0fl
169

J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

(7)
(71)

(69)

(73)

= -z 7

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D
1

1
(3a2 + 2)
I ?<?1
i + o^2 , >
4 + 8fl(fl2 + 2 ) '

:....(74)

2
a Lsin
a2
(fl
+t 6)
t*
J i i l (3
U
W
W
it*
V^I
= ^ ^2R
- - 7 ~' ??1 +^ T+7 16(
Z T 2r +^ '2)? 2

(75)

sin p S(e + Sjfl)


<7i = - R~
+- +
j
Ra
_ sinp
*k

PjRaj

SB0

P a % 7

S9t

B^KaV

pjRflsfl

a9 2
2 4

p a fl79

2 90 8 t a
22 3
3

(76)

9 a
Q2

22 - -

\''i

Pi a fl3fl5

and u 0 , c0 were defined previously in Eqs. 63 a n d 64.


APPENDIX III.REFERENCES

1. Bruckl, E., and Scheidegger, A. E., "Application of the Theory of Plasticity


to Slow Mudflows," Geotechnique, Vol. 23, No. 1, 1973, pp. 101-107.
2. Fread, D. L., "The NWS Dam-break Flood Forecasting Model," Report from
Office of Hydrology, National Weather Service, Silver Spring, Md., Sept., 1978.
3. "Gradually Varied Flow Profile Program," GVFP, Hydrology Engineering Center, U.S. Army Engineers, Davis, Calif., 1978.
4. Hanks, R. W., and Pratt, D. R., "On the Flow of Bingham Plastic Slurries
in Pipes and between Parallel Plates," Journal of Society of Petroleum Engineers,
Dec, 1967, pp. 342-346.
5. Hedstrom, B. O. A., "Flow of Plastic Materials in Pipes," Industrial Engineering Chemistry, Vol. 44, 1952, pp. 651-656.
6. Henderson, F. M., "Open Channel Flow," MacMillan and Co., New York,
N.Y., 1966, 522 pp.
7. Hill, R., The Mathematical Theory of Plasticity, Oxford Clarendon Press, Oxford, England, 1950.
8. Hutchinson, J. N., and Bhandari, R. I., "Undrained Loading: A Fundamental
Mechanism of Mudflows and other Mass Movements," Geotechnique, Vol. 21,
No. 4, 1971, pp. 353-358.
9. Jeyapalan, J. K., "Analyses of How Failures of Mine Tailings Impoundments,"
dissertation, presented to the University of California, at Berkeley, Calif., in
1980, in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of
Philosophy.
10. Johnson, A. M., "A Model for Debris Flow," dissertation, presented to Pennsylvania State University, at College Park, Pa., in 1965, in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
11. Johnson, A. M., and Hampton, M. A., "Subaerial and Subaqueous Flow of
Slurries," Report from School of Earth Sciences, Stanford University, Stanford,
Calif., July, 1969.
12. Korner, H. J., "Reichweite und Geschwindigkeit von Bergsturzen und Flie
Schnedawinen," Rock Mechanics, Vol. 8, 1976, pp. 225-256.
13. Morgenstern, N. R., "Submarine Slumping and Initiation of Turbidity Currents," Marine Geotechnique, A. F. Richards, ed., University of Illinois Press,
Urbana, 111., 1967, pp. 189-220.
170

J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.

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14. Nye, J., "The Flow of Glaciers and Ice-Sheets as a Problem in Plasticity,"
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, A 207, 1951, pp. 554-572.
15. Okuda, S., Suwa, H., and Yokoyama, K., "Observation System on Rocky
Mudflow," Disaster Prevention Research Institute Bulletin, Kyoto University,
Vol. 23, Part 3-4, No. 312, Kyoto, Japan, 1973.
16. Okuda, S., Suwa, H., and Yokoyama, K., "Synthetic Observation on Debris
Flow, Part 2," Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Kyoto,
Japan, Apr., 1976.
17. Okuda, S., Suwa, H., and Yokoyama, K., "Synthetic Observation on Debris
Flow, Part 3," Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University, Kyoto,
Japan, May, 1977.
18. Ritter, A., Die Fortpflanzung der Wasserwellen," Zeitschrift des Vereines
Deutscher Ingenieure, Vol. 36, No. 33, 1892, pp. 947-954.
19. Scheidegger, A. E., "On the Prediction of the Reach and Velocity of Catastrophic Landslides," Rock Mechanics, Vol. 5, Mar., 1978, pp. 231-236.
APPENDIX IV.NOTATION

The following symbols are used in this paper:


a =
C =
c =
f =
g =
H =
H0 =
h =
hH =
hR =
R =
R =
S =
s
f =
t =
uu ==
* =
V =
V =
t\a =
VV =
y =
i =
T =
T
y =
TR
=
P =

shape parameter;
Chezy coefficient;
celerity;
friction factor;
acceleration due to gravity;
Hedstrom number;
dam height;
flow depth;
hydraulic depth;
hydraulic radius;
viscous parameter;
Reynolds number;
strength parameter;
friction slope;
time;
average flow velocity;
flow velocity;
dimensional variables;
kinematic viscosity;
viscosity;
apparent viscosity;
plastic viscosity;
total unit weight;
shear strain rate;
shear stress;
yield shear strength;
residual shear strength; and
bed slope.

171

J. Geotech. Engrg. 1983.109:150-171.