June 20, 2022, Vancouver, BC, Canada – Dr. Violeta Martin, specialist hydrotechnical engineer at Knight Piésold Canada, presented the paper “Inundation Modelling of Non-Newtonian Tailings Dam Breach Outflows” at the 27th Congress and 90th Annual Meeting of the International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD). The paper was co-authored by Daniel Adria and Heleman Wong, junior engineers at Knight Piésold Canada.
The French Committee for Dams and Reservoirs (CFBR) hosted this year’s joint congress and annual meeting in Marseille, France, on May 27–June 3, 2022, bringing together nearly 1,400 participants from 72 countries to advance professional knowledge in dam engineering. The congress covered updates to the current state of practice on four ICOLD Questions, including (Q104) concrete dams design innovation and performance; (Q105) incidents and accidents concerning dams; (Q106) surveillance, instrumentation, monitoring, and data acquisition and processing; and (Q107) dams and climate change.
The paper, which was presented on June 2 as part of Q105, describes recent experiences with modelling the flood wave propagation of non-Newtonian tailings dam breach outflows using hydrodynamic modelling tools. It also discusses challenges encountered and lessons learned from various case studies, including availability and quality of input data and selection of appropriate models for the given conditions.
Dr. Martin said that while the congress was oriented more towards water dams and had papers on dam breach, this was the only one covering the dam breach of tailings dams and non-Newtonian flows. “The scientific understanding of the breach processes and physical phenomenon of tailings outflows is still developing,” said Dr. Martin. “Uncertainties in model inputs combined with lack of standardized methodologies for completing the various analyses required for tailings dam breach studies present considerable challenges to professionals.”
In addition to the congress, Dr. Martin attended various workshops on tailings dam safety, climate change, and management of debris in reservoirs, as well as a meeting of the ICOLD Technical Committee on Tailings Dams and Waste Lagoons. Paul Ridlen, president of Knight Piésold USA, and Duncan Grant-Stuart, technical consultant at Knight Piésold South Africa, are members of this technical committee.
Moreover, as co-chair of the Tailings Dam Breach Working Group of the Canadian Dam Association, Dr. Martin represented the working group and had numerous meetings with representatives from South America, Africa, and Europe. The working group developed the Technical Bulletin on Tailings Dam Breach Analysis—the first international guidance published on this topic.
“At Knight Piésold, we are actively involved with industry groups, research in universities, and professional organizations in advancing the standard for tailings dam breach analysis,” said Dr. Martin. “We continue to support clients in making informed decisions in the design and safety management of their tailings facilities as best practices and technologies in this field evolve.”