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Geotechnical and Geological Engineering

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 243–261 | Cite as

Hydraulic Conductivity of Fly Ash-Amended Mine Tailings

  • Sultan A. Alhomair
  • Mohammad H. Gorakhki
  • Christopher A. Bareither
Original paper

Abstract

The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of fly ash addition on hydraulic conductivity (k) of mine tailings. Mine tailings used in this study were categorized as synthetic tailings and natural tailings; two synthetic tailings were developed via blending commercially-available soils and natural tailings were collected from a garnet mine located in the U.S. Two fly ashes were used that had sufficient calcium oxide (CaO) content (17 and 18.9 %) to generate pozzolanic activity. Hydraulic conductivity was measured on pure tailings and fly ash-amended tailings in flexible-wall permeameters. Fly ash was added to mine tailings to constitute 10 % dry mass of the mixture, and specimens were cured for 7 and 28 days. The influence of fly ash-amendment on k of mine tailings was attributed to (1) molding water content and (2) plasticity of the mine tailings. Tailings that classified as low-plasticity silts with clay contents less than 15 % exhibited a decrease in k when amended with fly ash and prepared wet of optimum water content (w opt ). Tailings that classified as low-plasticity clay exhibited a one-order magnitude increase in k with addition of fly ash for materials prepared dry or near w opt . The decrease in k for silty tailings was attributed to formation of cementitious bonds that obstructed flow paths, whereas the increase in k for clayey tailings was attributed to agglomeration of clay particles and an overall increase in average pore size. The results also indicated that the effect of curing time on k is more pronounced during the early stages of curing (≤7 days), as there was negligible difference between k for 7 and 28-days cured specimens.

Keywords

Binder Fly ash Hydraulic conductivity Mine tailings 
CCB

Coal combustion by-products

CPB

Cemented paste backfill

dmax

Maximum particle size

EC

Electrical conductivity

ef

Final void ratio

ei

Initial void ratio

FA-A

Fly Ash A

FA-B

Fly Ash B

Gs

Specific gravity

k

Hydraulic conductivity

kave

Arithmetic average of the last four k measurements

kB/k0

Ratio of k of amended tailings to k of unamended tailings

k0

k of unamended tailings

LL

Liquid limit

PI

Plasticity index

PSD

Particle-size distribution

PVF

Pore volumes of flow

SC

Solids content

Sf

Final degree of saturation

Si

Initial degree of saturation

USCS

Unified soil classification system

Vout/Vin

Ratio of effluent volume to influent volume

wf

Final water contents

wi

Initial water contents

wopt

Optimum water content

W/B

Water-to-binder ratio

w

Water content

XRF

X-ray fluorescence

γdmax

Maximum dry unit weight

−Δe

Change in void ratio

Notes

Acknowledgments

Financial support for this study was provided in part by the Mountain Plains Consortium awarded to North Dakota State University. Support also was provided by Colorado State University. The opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Mountain Plains Consortium, North Dakota State University, or Colorado State University.

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sultan A. Alhomair
    • 1
  • Mohammad H. Gorakhki
    • 1
  • Christopher A. Bareither
    • 1
  1. 1.Civil and Environmental EngineeringColorado State UniversityFort CollinsUSA

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