Date of Graduation


Document Type

Problem/Project Report

Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mining Engineering

Committee Chair

Brijes Mishra

Committee Co-Chair

Berk Tulu

Committee Member

Berk Tulu

Committee Member

Hassan Amini


The Fundao tailing dam in Brazil failed on November 5, 2015 causing loss in life, property and severe damage to the environment. The waste flow traveled at 11m/s and approximately 32 million m3 tailings was released into the downstream area. Investigations by regulators concluded that a series of poor designs and construction of the tailing were the causes of the failure. Further investigations also showed that surface failure occurred in the mid height of the slope with a safety factor of 0.52. Both investigations concluded that static liquefaction induced the failure of tailings dam. However, geology variation in the Fundao Tailing Dam was not considered in both investigations. In this research, a review of the geological maps from the Brazilian geological survey, showed that the Fundao dike was located over Piracicaba Undivided Group and Sabara group, which was mainly composed by Phillite. This geological anomaly could have influenced the failure of the dam due to the variation in mechanical properties. A two-dimensional model of the Fundao Dam was developed in FLAC2D. The results showed that the foundation of the dam deforms significantly which could have induced the failure. Further, geological contacts with dip to north and south direction was inserted into the model. The model results showed that the contact with dip to the south deformed more than to the north. When foundation friction angle was at 45o, the deformation concentered at the center of the tailings which showed that using geology, more accurate and practical results are obtained.

Embargo Reason

Publication Pending