South Africa, as one of the world’s largest gold producing countries, also generates large amounts of tailings. These tailings are disposed in tailings dams, which pose great threat to the environment in the case of failure, in particular, liquefaction. In order to evaluate the potential of liquefaction, the void ratio of the tailings is required and is often impossible to obtain. Seismic methods allow an indirect method to estimate void ratio of in situ deposits of which tailings are examples of. Currently, the use of seismic methods to estimate void ratio of tailings rely on shear wave velocity – void ratio relationships derived for sands. It is thus uncertain whether this relationship holds for gold tailings, which is classified as a sandy silt or silt. The measurement of shear wave velocity of tailings is done in the laboratory using a triaxial apparatus modified to accommodate bender element. Shear wave velocities are measured using wide square pulses and continuous sinusoidal waves. The results show that there is a near linear relationship between void ratio and shear wave velocity normalized against effective stress. The position of this relationship lies below the previously published results for sands. Shear wave velocity of gold tailings is more sensitive to changes in effective stress than changes in void ratio or over-consolidation ratio. Furthermore, using phase sensitive detection of continuous waves, we can conclude that shear wave velocity of gold tailings is also frequency dependent.
Dissertation (MEng)--University of Pretoria, 2006.