Flows of Liquefied Filtered Tailings: Laboratory-Scale Physical and Numerical Modeling

  • John A. Sánchez-Peralta
  • Lorena N. Beltrán-Rodríguez
  • Mario G. Trujillo-Vela
  • Joan M. LarrahondoEmail author
Research paper


The numerical prediction of the runout and spread of liquefied-tailings flows is a complex problem that depends on many factors, including the rheological properties of the liquefied tailings. However, published benchmark problems specific to tailings flows, useful for validation and calibration of numerical models, are virtually nonexistent. This paper presents a laboratory-scale benchmark problem of liquefied-tailings flow. Gold filtered tailings were characterized via rheological measurements, geotechnical index tests, and toxicity chemical analysis. Physical flow experiments of the liquefied-tailings paste, at 70% solids concentration, were carried out in an instrumented laboratory flume with high-speed video and direct measurements of the at-rest “footprint” (lobe) dimensions. Subsequently, using the measured physical parameters, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) tools were used to solve the three-dimensional, rheology-dependent Navier–Stokes equations via the finite-volume method and a multiphase volume-of-fluid (VOF) technique. Thus, the at-rest lobe of the spilled tailings was numerically reproduced. Results show that the liquefied tailings bear nearly zero-yield stress and low viscosity, thereby practically behaving as a Newtonian fluid despite their high solid concentration. In addition, good agreement (within 14% of the main dimensions) was found between the physical and numerically simulated at-rest lobes. Hence, the use of a Navier–Stokes approach, supported on a finite-volume/VOF technique, and a Newtonian-fluid constitutive rheological model, simulates well the at-rest shape of liquefied tailings at laboratory scale. This benchmark problem will aid numerical research specific to tailings flows.


Filtered tailings Rheology Viscosity Benchmark problem Computational fluid dynamics Finite-volume method 



Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (Vicerrectoría de Investigación) provided partial support for this research through the research Grant No. 6575. The Department of Civil Engineering of Pontificia Universidad Javeriana also provided partial support. The sponsors had no involvement in study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the article for publication. The authors are also grateful for the support of Dr. Diego Cobos from Dynami Geoconsulting, Colombia, who provided the tailings and valuable technical comments. Likewise, they would like to thank the comments of Dr. Alfonso M. Ramos-Cañón and Dr. Jorge A. Escobar-Vargas of Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, and Dr. Miguel A. Cabrera of Universidad de Los Andes.


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Copyright information

© Iran University of Science and Technology 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Civil Engineering, School of EngineeringPontificia Universidad JaverianaBogotáColombia

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