Geotechnical & Geological Engineering

, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 219–248 | Cite as

Catastrophe revisited – disastrous flow failures of mine and municipal solid waste

  • G. E. BlightEmail author
  • A.  B. Fourie


Catastrophic flow failures have occurred with alarming frequency in mine tailings dams and dumps of discards and other mine waste. In recent years, catastrophic flow failures have also occurred in dumps of municipal solid waste and even in what were intended to be carefully controlled and well-engineered landfills. Apart from the environmental devastation caused by these flows, they are also dangerous to human life and society. Examples include the Buffalo Creek disaster in the USA in 1972 (Vick, Planning, Design and Analysis of Tailings Dams, Wiley, 1983) that killed 118 people, made 4000 homeless and destroyed 50 million US dollars worth of property and facilities. The flow slide that occurred in the Umraniye– Hekimbasi refuse dump in Turkey in 1993 (Kocasoy and Curi, Waste Management and Research, 13, 1995, 305) killed 39 people, destroying their homes in the process. This paper will briefly review some of the more notable flow slides in waste materials, analyzing conditions necessary for a flow failure to occur and pointing to ways of preventing this type of failure by a combination of sound design and operating procedures.


flow failure mine waste municipal solid waste tailings impoundments 


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Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil EngineeringUniversity of the WitwatersrandJohannesburgSouth Africa

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