oa Civil Engineering = Siviele Ingenieurswese - A review of important and interesting technical findings regarding the tailings dam failure at Merriespruit

Volume 41, Issue 4
  • ISSN : 1021-2000



The Merriespruit tailings dam failure was a tragic event that resulted in loss of life and much damage to property owing to the extensive mud flow. Because of the restraints imposed by a long, drawn-out inquest/inquiry, attempts to establish the cause of failure required an exercise in intensive investigative engineering without the direct assistance of those who had good information on the likely cause. The investigations conducted on behalf of the State included a careful analysis of eye-witness accounts, evaluation of weather and hydrological data, assessment of tailings properties through both laboratory and in situ testing, the interpretation of satellite imagery, and overtopping studies in a small-scale field experiment.

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