SMART-Dam aims to demonstrate a fully volumetric 3D time-lapse (i.e. 4D) ground imaging system for the remote monitoring of tailings dams. It will provide a new geophysical monitoring technology to assess the internal condition of dam structures on a continuous 24/7 basis - helping to give early warning of deterioration, leakage or imminent failure of tailings storage facilities. Conventional approaches to condition monitoring are often inadequate for predicting failure events. They are heavily dependent on either surface observations, which can only address failures that have already begun, or point sensors, which are inadequate to detect localized dam weaknesses. In contrast, SMART-Dam will develop geoelectrical imaging technology to 'see inside' tailings dams, enabling volumetric tracking of structural changes associated with deterioration, motion of fluids, flow pathways and ground movement, thereby identifying problems at a much earlier stage so that catastrophic dam failures can be prevented.
Dr Jonathan Chambers