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Static Liquefaction Analysis of the Fundão Dam Failure

Guillermo A. Riveros, Abouzar Sadrekarimi

Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering – The University of Western
Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

On November 5 2015, roughly 32 million cubic metres of iron mine tailings were accidentally released in the catastrophic
collapse of the Fundão dam in Minas Gerais, Brazil. A comprehensive static liquefaction analysis is performed in this study
on a section of the Fundão dam's left abutment prior to failure in order to determine the dam's susceptibility to liquefaction
and undrained strength loss under its ultimate loading condition. The method implemented accounts for variations in mode
of shear and anisotropic consolidation along the failure surface, as well as for the plane-strain boundary condition normally
encountered in the field. After convergence in this iterative method, all slices in the LEA model are found to have liquefied,
and the factor of safety for liquefaction flow failure in that section of the dam is determined to be 0.73.

Le 5 novembre 2015, environ 32 millions de mètres cubes de résidus miniers de fer ont été relâchés accidentellement lors
de l'effondrement catastrophique du barrage Fundão à Minas Gerais, au Brésil. Une analyse exhaustive du déclenchement
de la liquéfaction statique est effectuée dans cette étude sur une section du pilier gauche du barrage de Fundão avant
l'échec afin de déterminer la susceptibilité du barrage à la liquéfaction et à la perte de résistance non drainée dans son
état de chargement ultime. La méthode mise en œuvre explique les variations de mode de cisaillement et de consolidation
anisotropique le long de la surface de défaillance, ainsi que pour les conditions limite de contrainte plane normalement
rencontrées sur le terrain. Après la convergence dans cette méthode itérative, toutes les tranches du modèle de l’analyse
d’équilibre limite se sont révélées liquéfiées et le facteur de sécurité pour l'échec du flux de liquéfaction dans cette section
du barrage est déterminé comme étant de 0.73.

1 INTRODUCTION liquefaction when loose and saturated; and slimes, which

in contrast were much finer and clay-like in nature with low
Continued failure of tailings dams around the world in the permeability (Morgenstern et al. 2016).
last few decades has brought about many interrelated Initial design of the embankment made use of a
implications to the global mining community. Statistics compacted earthfill starter dam that was to be raised by the
taken from 1970 to 2001 indicate that 1 in every 700 tailings upstream method, depositing sand tailings behind it. The
dams failed every year during that time period (LePoudre sands would in turn retain slimes deposited on the opposite
2015). The fatal and costly consequences of many of these side of the dam and maintain a beach distance of not less
disasters have undoubtedly increased a negative publicity, than 200 m to prevent the water-borne slimes from being
undermining the credibility of the mining industry and deposited in the sands near the crest (Morgenstern et al.
jeopardizing its social license to operate (Blight 2010). By 2016). A very important feature of the design was the high-
focusing on the case history of the Fundão dam failure, one capacity drainage system at the base of the starter dam
of the costliest tailings dam disasters in recent years, the that would allow water to drain from the sands to prevent
objective of this study is to investigate the static liquefaction saturation.
phenomenon hypothesized to have caused the dam’s A series of incidents, beginning shortly after
collapse, and demonstrate the need to implement a static construction in 2009, required certain modifications to the
liquefaction analysis method that accounts for true field initial plans and promoted the eventual triggering of static
conditions. The stability of the Fundão dam’s failing slope liquefaction in the sands (Morgenstern et al. 2016). The
is evaluated using a static liquefaction triggering and flow first of these was the discovery of construction defects in
failure analyses method developed by Sadrekarimi (2016), the base drain, which forced the closure of the entire
in combination with the dam’s geotechnical drainage system. The revised design made use of a
characterization and advanced testing data obtained by blanket drain that, due to the existing elevation of the dam
Morgenstern et al. (2016). at the time, had to be built at a higher elevation, thus
allowing more widespread saturation of the sands. The
1.1 History of Fundão Dam second incident involved the mismanagement of the sand-
slime beach required to prevent slime deposits and water
Fundão dam was an iron tailings embankment built in the encroachment near the crest of the embankment, which
state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Due to the use of separation allowed slimes to settle out in areas where they were not
by gravity and later flotation concentration methods in iron intended to exist. The third and last incident was the
mining (Vick 2005), two types of tailings were produced structural deficiency of the concrete conduit beneath the
and delivered separately in a slurry form to the dam. Sand dam's left abutment, which was found incapable of
tailings, which consisted of a mixture of sand-sized and sustaining any further loading generated by raising of the
finer silt particles that were free-draining but susceptible to dam. Consequently, the alignment of the embankment’s
crest was set back towards the tailings pool in order to characterize the shearing behaviour of loose saturated
maintain operations during the remedial work, placing the sand tailings in embankments such as the Fundão dam, a
embankment directly over previously-deposited slimes. more thorough analysis is undertaken using a procedure
The Fundão dam failed on November 5, 2015, in a that incorporates variations in mode of shear and initial
liquefaction flowslide that began at the embankment's left stress anisotropy in an empirical formulation based on in-
abutment where the alignment setback had been built. The situ penetration tests, with the goal of determining the
slide of saturated tailings swept away the nearby town of method’s applicability in the evaluation of static liquefaction
Bento Rodriguez, killing 19 villagers, burying the town for hard-rock mine tailings impoundments.
completely, and causing a major environmental disaster by
polluting the local water system down to its mouth into the
Atlantic Ocean (da Fonseca and da Fonseca 2016). 2 STATIC LIQUEFACTION ANALYSIS

1.2 Problem Statement and Objective Liquefaction triggering analysis of the left abutment of the
Fundão embankment is carried out in this study by means
Static liquefaction, the cause of failure for the Fundão dam of a series of Limit Equilibrium Analyses (LEA) using
as noted by Morgenstern et al. (2016), occurs when the GeoSlope's SLOPE/W®. The main goal was to
shear stress applied by a monotonic triggering load demonstrate the attainment of an accurate and refined
exceeds the undrained yield strength of a saturated factor of safety for the embankment prior to its failure in
liquefiable cohesionless material (Sadrekarimi 2016). 2015. This section describes the analysis of the
Figure 1 shows effective stress paths from two undrained characterization and strength parameters of Fundão’s
triaxial compression tests on loose Monterey #0 sand tailings required for computer modelling of the failing slope
specimens (Riemer 1992). The specimens were and the static liquefaction analysis conducted. No attempt
consolidated to similar void ratios (ec), but at different is made to determine strains or displacements as this
consolidation stress ratios (Kc = '3c/'1c) of 1 (isotropic would require a more sophisticated Finite Element Analysis
consolidation) and 0.5 (anisotropic consolidation). As (FEA), which currently falls outside the scope of this
illustrated in Figure 1, undrained strength loss occurs once investigation.
an undrained yield strength, su(yield) is overcome for each
specimen. Therefore, su(yield) marks the triggering 2.1 Fundão Tailings Material Properties and
condition for static liquefaction. Strain softening continues Deposition Cycle
with further shear displacement until an undrained post-
liquefaction strength, su(liq) is reached. A liquefaction flow As mentioned earlier, the tailings materials found in
failure would result if su(liq) drops below the applied shear Fundão dam consisted of two different types, namely sand
stress. and slime tailings. The sand was a silty sand (SM) with a
bulk unit weight of 19 kN/m3 that showed no cohesion, was
free-draining in nature, and depending on its density and
300 saturation level was susceptible to liquefaction. In contrast,
Undrained TxC tests on Monterey #0 sand the iron slimes consisted of a low-plastic silt and clay (CL-
(based on data from Riemer 1992)
Undrained strength, su (kPa)

250 su(yield) ML) with liquid and plastic limits of 26% and 19%,
Kc = 0.5, ec = 0.822 CSL IL respectively, and with low permeability that impeded the
200 free flow of water. Figure 2 shows the average particle size
distributions of these materials.
tc = 176 kPa

Kc = 1.0, ec = 0.832
0 80
0 75 150 225 300 375 450
Minor effective principal stress, '3 (kPa)
Figure 1: Effective stress paths from undrained triaxial
Finer (%)

compression tests on Monterey #0 sand

An evaluation of the Fundão investigation report by
Morgenstern et al. (2016) indicates that a typical
20 Sands
liquefaction triggering analysis was conducted, whereby
undrained yield strengths of the cohesionless tailings were Slimes
determined by empirical correlations based on in-situ 0
penetration tests. However, as noted by Sadrekarimi 10 1 0.1 0.01 0.001
(2016), these correlations do not account for the effects of Particle size (mm)
anisotropic consolidation, intermediate principal stress, Figure 2: Average particle size distributions of sand and
and modes of shear in the degree of strain-softening and slime tailings at Fundão dam
brittleness of cohesionless soils. Hence, to accurately
2.3 Static Liquefaction Triggering Analysis Method
Because of their contrasting features, the main design
basis for Fundão dam was to maintain the separation of A liquefaction triggering analysis assists in determining
these two materials. Characterization and strength whether an undrained strength loss could occur in a loose
properties for both materials were obtained from laboratory cohesionless soil under a given loading condition
and in-situ test results conducted by Morgenstern et al. (Sadrekarimi 2016). This is accomplished by comparing
(2016). Cone penetration test (CPT) readings from the field loading conditions with su(yield) under which strain-
investigation report were primarily used to determine the softening occurs.
in-situ undrained strength of the tailings in conjunction with The undrained strength of loose tailings is conveniently
the analytical method described in a later section. characterized by undrained strength ratios: the undrained
yield strength ratio (su(yield)/'vo) and the undrained post-
2.2 Dam Geometry liquefaction strength ratio (su(liq)/'vo). These ratios, which
consist of the respective undrained strength normalized by
A key element in the reconstruction of the dam's geometry the in-situ effective vertical stress prior to failure ('vo), have
and its materials for LEA is the determination of the found great use in the characterization of shear strength in
deposition cycles and layers of slimes and sands. In order laboratory testing and back-calculation of shear strength in
to estimate the extent of slimes, the combination of data liquefaction case studies (Been and Jeffries 1985; Olson
collected by Morgenstern et al. (2016) is used. The slimes and Stark 2003; Stark and Mesri 1992; Robertson 2010;
boundaries identified represented areas where slime Sadrekarimi and Olson 2011). Using the geotechnical data
layers could have been present due to the ingress of pond assessed from Morgenstern et al. (2016), this study
water over the sloping sand deposit. A mass balance employs the method of analysis proposed by Sadrekarimi
analysis conducted by Morgenstern et al. (2016) better (2016) to estimate su(yield)/'vo and su(liq)/'vo and the
defines the stratigraphy of the slimes, with a gradual factor of safety (FS) for liquefaction flow failure analysis of
transition from predominantly slimes to isolated slimes Fundão dam. This method consists of an iterative LEA
moving upslope towards the crest. procedure, in which the mobilized shear stresses are
The slope geometry, geotechnical and hydrogeological compared against the undrained shear strength for slices
parameters, dam-raise and deposition time histories, and below the water level, accounting for the effects of mode of
CPT results were obtained from Morgenstern et al. (2016). shear, plane-strain boundary conditions, and initial stress
This information was used for the development of the anisotropy (Kc). Where slices of a particular LEA mobilize
computer model for Fundão dam’s left abutment profile stresses lower than the base su(yield), the estimated
prior to failure as shown in Figure 3. GeoSlope’s su(yield) is assigned at the base of that slice. If slices
SLOPE/W® software was used to define the dam section mobilize stresses higher that the base s u(yield), static
and carry out the set of analyses. liquefaction is deemed to have occurred and su(liq)
estimated from a correlation with in-situ test results is
assigned. Drained strength using a critical state friction
angle ('cs) of 29o determined from direct simple shear tests
on Fundão dam iron sand and slimes tailings (Morgenstern
et al. 2016) are assigned to slices above the water table.
Using the newly assigned values of undrained strength, the
LEA model is repeated to incorporate these values along
the failure surface, and the LEA is run iteratively in the
same manner, maintaining the liquefied slices as such until
no other slices liquefy. The factor of safety calculated in the
final LEA is the FS for liquefaction flow failure. For a more
detailed description of the method and the different
Figure 3: Fundão dam's left abutment LEA Model (yellow: parameters used in this analysis, readers are encouraged
sands; green: slimes; brown: original ground) to see Sadrekarimi (2016).

2.4 Prediction of Mobilized Undrained Strengths

Another important element in modelling the dam for a
liquefaction triggering analysis is the identification of the There are presently several methods for determining the
phreatic surface at the left setback where failure was undrained strength of cohesionless soils. These include
described to have initiated. For this purpose, piezometric expensive sets of laboratory shear tests, numerical
readings from nine piezometers were used by Morgenstern analysis of constitutive models, and using empirical
et al. (2016). As noted in the investigation report, despite a correlations with in-situ penetration tests. As the more
steeply sloped stripped ground surface moving away from common approach in practice, empirical correlations with
the left abutment, the piezometric records show a relatively Standard Penetration Test (SPT) and Cone Penetration
flat phreatic surface, implying there was an obstruction for Test (CPT) have been developed from previous
drainage towards the blanket drain and supporting the liquefaction flow failures by Mesri (2007), Olson and Stark
believed presence of slimes below the dam fill (2003), and Stark and Mesri (1992). These are often used
(Morgenstern et al. 2016). for estimating the in-situ triggering strength due to their
simplicity, convenience, low cost, and nearly continuous
measurements. However, these methods estimate the be a testing error. The 30th percentile is selected because
same value of undrained shear strength for a given of uncertainties with selecting a representative qc1 value for
penetration resistance, irrespective of the mode of shear, liquefiable soil layers.
stress-induced anisotropy and boundary conditions In the LEA model, su(liq)/'vo values for simple shearing
(Sadrekarimi 2016). For the case of sloping grounds (such mode were estimated based on q c1 readings using
as in a tailings dam), the angle of a failure plane with Equation 1 (from Sadrekarimi 2016) and contoured along
respect to the horizontal () varies as shown in Figure 4. the dam’s section on SLOPE/W®. The equation used was
This variation produces further variations in principal stress developed for loose liquefiable soils with qc1 < 8 MPa. Next,
directions, thus producing different modes of shear along using the graph in Figure 6, values of s u(liq)/'vo for
the failure plane, ranging from compression near the crest, compression and extension shear modes are estimated for
simple shear towards the seat, and extension near the toe. the same brittleness index (IB) equal to that of the simple
In Figure 4, different modes of shear are approximately shear case. The brittleness index gives an indication of the
given based on the counter-clockwise angle of the failure amount of strain softening and has a statistical correlation
plane to the horizontal (θ). For angles with θ > 15, 15 > θ > with Kc in Sadrekarimi (2016).
-15, and θ < -15 degrees, compression, simple shear, and
extension shear modes are respectively assigned. These
ranges provide a simplified approach to relate the 𝑠𝑢 (𝑙𝑖𝑞) ⁄𝜎′𝑣𝑜 = 0.22 + 0.017𝑞𝑐1 (𝑀𝑃𝑎) ± 0.021 [1]
geometry of a failure surface to the load conditions found
in the field, while the in-situ shearing mode will typically
change smoothly along a slip surface (Sadrekarimi 2016).

'1 Prevailing mode of shear

Compression Compression
Simple shear
'3 '3
t  = 15o a '3
Failure plane '3 '1
 = 15o
'1 = major principal stress  = -15o
'3 = minor principal stress '3 '3
t = shear stress '1
Simple shear
Figure 4: Variation of mode of shear along a failure surface
(Sadrekarimi 2016)

Besides mode of shear, the magnitudes of major and

minor principal stresses vary along a failure plane, leading
to changes in the initial static shear (tc) and a principal
stress anisotropy characterized by the principal stress ratio
Kc. As demonstrated in Figure 1, Kc can have a profound
effect on su(yield) and su(liq). Field strain conditions in Figure 5: Cone tip resistances from CPT readings at
slopes are also typically in two dimensions (plane-strain). Fundão dam
A comprehensive liquefaction triggering analysis must
consider the combined effects of Kc, mode of shear, and
boundary conditions as these mechanisms produce
microstructural strains and an induced anisotropy in the soil PSC: su (liq)/'1c = 0.045(IB)2 - 0.320IB + 0.275
R2 = 0.986
(Sadrekarimi 2016).
HCTS: su (liq)/'1c = 0.053(IB)2 - 0.309IB + 0.251
0.2 R2 = 0.949

2.5 Estimation of su(liq)/'vo PSC

Figure 5 shows corrected cone penetration resistances TxE
(qc1) from four CPT readings (Morgenstern et al. 2016) 0.1

adjacent to the section of the Fundão dam analyzed in this

study from highest to lowest locations down the slope. TxE: su (liq)/'1c = 0.120(IB)2 - 0.345IB + 0.228
Evaluation of these CPT readings led to the rough R2 = 0.975
classification of tailings with respect to the USCS ranging 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1
from silty-sand to sand, as well as the estimation of the IB
su(liq)/'vo in accordance with Sadrekarimi (2016). All else Figure 6: Undrained strength ratios for simple shear,
being equal, the layer with the lowest qc1 will have the least compression, and extension modes of shear as a function
resistance to liquefaction. However, the lowest value may of brittleness index (Sadrekarimi 2016)
segments along the failure surface also display the highest
2.6 Estimation of su(yield)/'vo values of Kc, exhibiting the maximum effects of anisotropy.
This observation is consistent with the results of liquefied
To estimate su(yield)/'vo, Kc values for each slice in the slices, as increasing anisotropic consolidation promotes
LEA model are first determined from the mobilized base strain-softening (Sadrekarimi 2016). Additionally, as shown
stresses. Estimation of the maximum excess pore water in Figure 9, the undrained shear strength begins to
pressure ratio (ru=u/'vo) in relation to the mode of shear decrease with each iteration, indicating the triggering of
identified for each slice follows, based on correlations static liquefaction along the failure surface, and implying
found by Sadrekarimi (2016) to estimate IB for each of the the need for the tailings to redistribute the applied stresses
slices. Since the value of IB is dependent on the estimated based on the mobilized shear strength in certain slices
su(liq)/'vo and the unknown su(yield)/'vo, by definition along the slip surface after liquefaction has taken place.
su(yield)/'vo is determined at the base of each slice by
solving the following equation:

′ −𝑠 (𝑙𝑖𝑞)⁄𝜎 ′
𝑠𝑢 (𝑦𝑖𝑒𝑙𝑑)⁄𝜎𝑣𝑜 𝑢 𝑣𝑜
𝐼𝐵 = ′ [2]
𝑠𝑢 (𝑦𝑖𝑒𝑙𝑑)⁄𝜎𝑣𝑜


The results from the static liquefaction analysis of Fundão
dam are presented in this section. The FS and the slip Iteration 1
surface for liquefaction flow failure based on the final LEA
0.70 Iteration 2
of the analysis is presented along with the summarized
changes in FS from iteration to iteration, and the mobilized Iteration 3
undrained shear strength along the slip surface. Iteration 4
As an initial reference analysis, a drained LEA of the 0.60
selected cross section was conducted using the -50 50 150 250
Morgenstern-Price method in SLOPE/W® to compare its Distance from Dam Crest [m]
results with those in Morgenstern et al. (2016) and confirm
Figure 7: Variations of Kc along the slip surface for each
the adequate reconstruction of the dam’s cross section. By
LEA iteration
comparing the results of the drained reference LEA with
those reported by Morgenstern et al. (2016), the
reconstructed computer model using the dam’s slimes
depositional information and crest raising records are 1.0
confirmed to be similar to that used in the official
investigation report. With both models yielding the same
Factor of Safety

FS of 2.47, this step serves as a reference point for the

subsequent contrast between the FS for liquefaction flow 0.9
failure provided by Morgenstern et al. (2016) and that
obtained in this study.

3.1 Static Liquefaction Triggering Analysis 0.8

The first undrained stability analysis (USA) (Iteration 0 in

Figure 8) was conducted using su(yield)/'vo values
calculated from Sadrekarimi (2016) analytical method for 0.7
each slice to determine the triggering of static liquefaction. 0 1 2 3 4
The initial gravitational stresses calculated in the drained Iteration Number
analysis were used to determine Kc. The results show a FS
= 0.962, which indicates the occurrence of static Figure 8: Variation in factor of safety for each iteration
liquefaction failure. This corresponds to an approximate
61% reduction in FS from the drained LEA because of the
lower undrained shear strength of the tailings below the
phreatic surface in contrast to the drained shear strength
assigned before.
Figures 7 and 8 show the variations of Kc and FS for
each iterative LEA. After the liquefaction triggering
analysis, liquefaction was manifested in the sand tailings at
the break-out point of the slip surface where there is an
extension mode of shear. As shown in Figure 7, these
0.40 correlations (Olson and Stark 2003; Robertson 2010) was
assigned to those below the water phreatic surface. This
USR1 Iteration 1
approach ignored the effects of the different modes of
(Morgenstern) shear along the failure surface and the natural anisotropy
Iteration 2
0.30 found in the field. As such, an overestimated FS of 1.48
Iteration 3 was calculated due to the high value of the constant
su(yield)/'vo. When compared with the undrained yield

Iteration 4 strength ratios determined in this study, the magnitudes

used by Morgenstern et al. (2016) are found to be about
Trigger 17% higher in the compression zone, 66% in the horizontal
zone, and 190% in the extension zone as shown in Figure
0.10 9. Taking the FS for static liquefaction triggering
Post-liquefaction determined in this study (FS=0.962) as that accurately
assessing the abutment's susceptibility to static
liquefaction, an overestimation of 53% (for FS = 0.962 vs.
0.00 1.48) was obtained. Furthermore, the FS reported by the
-50 150 350 550
investigation panel is higher than unity, thus being unable
Distance from dam crest (m) to predict the triggering of static liquefaction and strength
Figure 9: Variations in undrained strength ratios mobilized loss.
along the failure plane for static liquefaction at each In the second liquefaction triggering analysis, modified
iteration su(yield)/'vo were assigned to tailings below the phreatic
surface estimated based on empirical correlations by
3.2 Analysis of Liquefaction Flow Failure Sadrekarimi (2014) from field data obtained in June 2015.
For the backscarp, su(yield)/'vo = 0.30; for the horizontal
As shown in Figure 8, the factor of safety for undrained zone, su(yield)/'vo = 0.22; and for the breakout zone,
stability analysis continuously changes for iterations 1
su(yield)/'vo = 0.14 were assigned. Although an attempt
through 4, reflecting strength reduction in liquefied slices
was made to incorporate modes of shear into the analysis
and stress redistribution among liquefied and non-liquefied
by modifying the assigned undrained strength ratios, the
slices. Convergence was reached at the 5th iteration when
effects of anisotropic consolidation were still left out,
about 30% of the slices below the water level had liquefied
leading to a FS of 1.14, which overestimates the FS
as shown in red in Figure 10. No new slices liquefied
determined here. A comparison between the individual
beyond this iteration, reaching a FS for liquefaction flow
undrained strength ratios in each of the zones used by
failure of 0.728. This demonstrates the imminent
Morgenstern et al. (2016) and those determined in this
susceptibility of the Fundão dam's left abutment to flow
study indicates that the strength was overestimated by
liquefaction, which ultimately led to its collapse.
13% in the backscarp zone, by 18% in the horizontal zone,
and by 21% in the breakout zone. Assuming the FS
determined in this study (FS=0.962) accurately assesses
the abutment’s susceptibility to static liquefaction
triggering, the FS reported by Morgenstern et al. (2016) is
still overestimated by 19% (for FS = 0.962 vs. 1.14). As
before, this FS is also higher than unity, and consequently
does not predict the triggering of static liquefaction.
Finally, in a third USA reported by Morgenstern et al.
(2016), a post-liquefaction stability analysis was conducted
by assigning a constant su(liq)/'vo of 0.07 based on in-situ
test correlations by Olson and Stark (2002) to the tailings
below the water surface. As in the first USA, this approach
Figure 10: Zones of liquefaction and non-liquefiable slices did not include the effects of the different modes of shear
following fifth LEA iteration for Fundão dam failure along the failure and assumed uniform liquefaction along
the slip surface. As such, an underestimated FS of 0.36
was calculated. When compared with the combination of
4 COMPARISON WITH MORGENSTERN ET AL. undrained yield and liquefied strength ratios mobilized in
(2016) this study, the magnitudes used by Morgenstern et al.
(2016) are found to be about 38% lower in the liquefied
A summary of the undrained stability analysis (USA) compression zone, and 65% lower in the non-liquefied
conducted by the investigation panel on the same section horizontal zone as shown in Figure 9. Taking the FS for
of Fundão dam (labelled Section 01) based on field data post-liquefaction stability determined in this study (FS =
from June 2015 and using undrained strength ratios can be 0.728) as that accurately assessing the abutment's
found in Appendix H of Morgenstern et al. (2016). In the liquefied resistance, an underestimation of 50% was
first USA reported, drained strength was assigned to obtained.
tailings above the phreatic surface and a constant
su(yield)/'vo of 0.31 based on some other CPT empirical
5 CONCLUSIONS Riemer, M., 1992. The effects of testing conditions on the
constitutive behavior of loose, saturated sand under
The results obtained in this study help to illustrate the monotonic loading, University of California Berkeley,
adequacy of the static liquefaction analysis method California:.
developed by Sadrekarimi (2016) for iron sand tailings Robertson, P., 2010. Evaluation of Flow Liquefaction and
embankments. By implementing this method, which Liquefied Strength. J. Geotech. Geoenviron. Eng.,
considers the important effects of plane-strain boundary 136(6): 842-853.
conditions, anisotropic consolidation, and the variation in Sadrekarimi, A., 2014. Effect of the mode of shear on static
mode of shear along a failure surface, the left abutment of liquefaction analysis. J. Geotech. Geoenviron. Eng.,
Fundão dam was found to be imminently susceptible to ASCE, 04014069:1-12.
static liquefaction with factors of safety equal to 0.962 and Sadrekarimi, A., 2016. Static Liquefaction Considering
0.728 for liquefaction triggering and flow failure, Principal Stress Directions and Anisotropy. Geotech
respectively. Geol Eng., 1135-1154.
In-situ test data were used in conjunction with an Sadrekarimi, A. and Olson, S., 2011. Yield strength ratios,
empirical approach to estimate liquefaction triggering and critical strength ratios, and brittleness of sandy soils
post-liquefaction undrained shear strengths for loose and from laboratory tests. Canadian Geotechnical Journal,
saturated tailings. Details on the causes of variations in the 48: 493-510.
results among individual iterations in the static liquefaction Stark, T. D. and Mesri, G., 1992. Undrained shear strength
triggering analysis are discussed, and several of liquefied sands for stability analysis. Journal of
comparisons with the findings in Morgenstern et al. (2016) Geotechnical Engineering ASCE, 118:1727-1747.
are presented to emphasize the method’s applicability for Stark, T. and Mesri, G., 1992. Undrained shear strength of
iron tailings impoundments. For two undrained stability liquefied sands. J. Geotech. Engrg, 118(11): 1727-
analyses reported by Morgenstern et al. (2016), the factors 1747.
of safety for liquefaction triggering were found to be 53% Vick, S., 2005. Planning, Design and Analysis of Tailings
and 19% greater than that calculated in this study, and Dams, BiTech Publishers, Vancouver, Canada.
remained above unity, unable to predict static liquefaction
that occurred at Fundão dam. Lastly, a third undrained
stability analysis by Morgenstern et al. (2016)
underestimated the factor of safety for liquefaction flow
failure by 50% from that obtained in this study. In
conclusion, as more studies are conducted and become
available, it is the authors’ aspiration that the application of
this analysis method for other hard-rock tailings such as
gold, silver and copper finds use and implementation in the


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