Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Master of Engineering Science


Civil and Environmental Engineering


Julie Q Shang


In oil sand waste tailings pond, the gravity segregation takes place, where coarse particles settle relatively more quickly than fine particles, and a stable suspension, known as the mature fine tailings (MFT), is formed. Compression of MFT appears to be very slow, and MFT remains suspended in tailings pond for decades due to the low permeability. Large volumes of MFT continually accumulate in tailings ponds, and therefore MFT storage requires a large containment pond, which generates environmental concerns and leads to MFT management challenges. Hydraulic conductivity is one of the most important properties of MFT because it controls consolidation behaviors. Clear understandings of hydraulic conductivity and its relationship with void ratio are essential to MFT management and treatment.

This study establishes the relationship between hydraulic conductivity and a relatively wide range of void ratios for MFT through three laboratory tests, i.e. the standard oedometer test, the falling head test and the Rowe cell test. Based on the hydraulic conductivity data of this study together with the data reported in the literature, data regression models are developed to correlate the hydraulic conductivity with a wide range of void ratios (k-e relationship) for fine oil sand tailings. Empirical equations, which were proposed to predict the hydraulic conductivity for plastic soils, are evaluated their suitability and performances in terms of predicting the hydraulic conductivity for fine oil sand tailings.