Luna Innovations announces the strategic acquisition of Silixa. Read more here

Tailings Storage Facilities, Dams, Levees, Earthen Structures Monitoring

Tailings Storage Facilities (TSF), dams, levees and in general, earthen structures are subject to natural and manmade forces that can put them at risk. The following processes can affect the longevity and performance of various earthen structures:

  • Seismicity
  • Liquefaction
  • Deformation
  • Seepage
  • Crack development
  • Subsidence

The integrity of TSFs, dams and levees is critical because any failure in them can lead to catastrophic human, environmental and economic consequences.

What Are Tailings Dams

Dams are used to store the tailings water and waste that are produced from the mining process. Tailings dams can be lakes, with embankments reaching up to 300 meters high. As the slurry of waste is piped into the dam, the solids settle to the bottom and the water is recycled to be used in the separation process again.

Unlike dams built for reservoirs or hydroelectric projects, tailings dams use earth or rock, rather than reinforced concrete, to create a barrier. However, most tailings dams use the cheaper but more dangerous upstream method of construction, using the tailings themselves to create a barrier.  The dam is then continually raised to accommodate more waste. These dams are more unstable and more prone to leakage or collapse.

The Luna Tailings Dam Monitoring Solution

Fiber optic cable placed along the tailings dam acts like thousands of acoustic and temperature sensors that continuously monitor for unexpected activity.

The Luna Innovations Tailings Dam Monitoring Solution uses advanced fiber-optic sensing to provide an early warning system for potential dam failures as well as comprehensive data analysis for failure protection. Luna offers an innovative monitoring solution equaling thousands of high-tech ground sensors looking at behavior of the facility at both sensor locations and into the formation interior.

Luna’s fiber optic sensors provide not only real time alarm systems but are the tools to permanently listen to all activity. This includes external activity like third party intrusions, vehicle overloads, tampering, etc. More importantly these sensors provide a look into the heartbeat of complex engineering assets. By taking advantage of strain, temperature and seismic/vibration data we help our clients understand any mechanism that could put the structure at risk

Distributed fiber optic sensing is increasingly being deployed along these critical assets. The sensing consists of strain, seismic/vibration and temperature monitoring that enables our clients to listen 24/7 to the dynamics, internal and external, of the entire system with unmatched receiver density. This enables simultaneous monitoring of long assets that are impossible to instrument and understand with a handful of point sensors.

By taking at proactive role at monitoring fiber optic sensing enables a real time assessment of operations and any potential issues that could develop.

Our TSF, Dam, and Levee Monitoring Solution consists of:

  • Interrogator Units (sensitive to strain, vibration and/or temperature)
  • Fiber Optic Cables designs for specific sensing programs
  • Real Time software for event detection and monitoring of different processes along the structure
  • Data streaming and notification systems to put the data and diagnostics in the hands of users in real time. 

The Luna Tailings Dam Solution allows mine operators to observe changes in the condition of the tailings storage facility to a level of detail never possible before. The smallest strain changes can be seen by the equivalent of over 1,000 sensors covering the dam slope allowing ground movements to be studied in much greater detail than possible with conventional monitoring systems.

Early Warning Detection System Project in Canada

  • Commissioned in early 2020
  • New cable installation along the crest of the dam
  • Major strain change and fiber break detection
  • Full coverage of the site
  • Integrated to other layers of Control


Scroll to Top