University of Oulu

Knutsson, R., Tuomela, A., Rauhala, A., Knutsson, S., Laue, J. (2021) Geothermal Study of a Tailings Deposit: Frost Line Modelling and Comparison to Field Data. Journal of Earth Sciences and Geotechnical Engineering, 11(3), 15-32. doi:10.47260/jesge/1133

Geothermal study of a tailings deposit : frost line modelling and comparison to field data

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Author: Knutsson, Roger1; Tuomela, Anne2; Rauhala, Anssi2;
Organizations: 1Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering Luleå University of Technology
2Water Resources and Environmental Engineering Research Group University of Oulu
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Scientific Press International Limited, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-03-29


Seasonal freezing and thawing can have significant effects on tailings management. Tailings delivery, depositional schemes and water treatment are examples of activities that must be dealt with extra concern in sub-zero temperatures. Changes in mechanical properties, drainage possibilities or embedded frozen tailings layers are effects that can arise in poorly managed facilities. To avoid such consequences, a good understanding of the seasonal effects on the tailings deposit is needed. To get a better understanding of the geothermal regime in tailings, this paper presents a case study with geothermal modelling performed for the Laiva tailings facility in Finland, where major seasonal freezing and thawing periods are present. Ground temperatures and frost lines were predicted via one-dimensional modelling using air temperatures and snow cover depths from adjacent weather stations, and basic soil properties from the facility. Simulated results were compared to data obtained from thermal instruments in the field. The snow cover and its estimated thermal properties were shown to have large influence on the results. The model was able to accurately predict the thermal regime measured in the field. Strong agreement was shown, both in terms of ground temperatures and frost front positions. The methodology presented is useful for tailings management schemes in cold regions.

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Series: Journal of earth sciences and geotechnical engineering
ISSN: 1792-9040
ISSN-E: 1792-9660
ISSN-L: 1792-9040
Volume: 11
Issue: 3
Pages: 15 - 32
DOI: 10.47260/jesge/1133
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 218 Environmental engineering
212 Civil and construction engineering
Funding: Financial supports to this study were given by Luleå University of Technology and Oulu University, and are highly acknowledged. The study was also partly funded by the Interreg Nord 2014–2020 program (RESEM,, K. H. Renlunds foundation, and Tauno Tönning foundation.
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