Tetra Tech is a leader in developing solutions to support the operational safety of geotechnical and natural structures. On a global scale, tailings dam breaches are increasing in frequency, causing significant damage to the environment and even loss of life. To mitigate these catastrophic events in the future, Tetra Tech developed microseismic technology that can monitor the structural stability of tailings dams and identify parameters that may cause a failure.

Tetra Tech’s microseismic technology uses ambient seismic noise to detect internal changes in a tailings dam, observing velocity changes in the whole structure. This indirect technique measures the rigidity variation of the dam, and by continuously monitoring the change in wave velocity of the structure, identifies sources that may cause a failure. This method also identifies any anomalous behavior, creating real-time data for Tetra Tech’s geotechnical engineers to make decisions with confidence.

Tetra Tech has recently implemented microseismic technology to monitor tailings dams in Brazil, commissioning more than 20 tailings dams and installing more than 180 geophones connected to 50 seismic stations. These systems are processing data collected continuously to support the safety of miners and dams in varying locations and ground conditions. The systems provide an extensive flow of data to identify early warnings about the integrity of tailings dams and allow our geotechnical engineers to remotely monitor each dam’s structural stability and mitigate breaches.

By Leading with Science®, Tetra Tech continues to provide our clients with the technology, tools, and innovative solutions to address the dangers of tailings dam breaches, helping meet standards, regulations, and demands in the mining industry.