What is a dam break analysis and inundation study?

  • Tailings dams are designed to meet specifications to withstand very low probability events, such as floods and earthquakes.
  • Dam break analysis and inundation studies are primarily used to inform the emergency preparedness and response planning and the dam classification.  The dam classification is then used to inform the design specifications. 
  • They are based on hypothetical scenarios not connected to probability of occurrence.   Any imaginable cause of failure, which has a probability greater than zero, is considered. 
  • For example, a dam with an extreme classification would be required to withstand an earthquake with a magnitude that has a probability of 0.0001% chance of occurring.   However, the dam break analyses may assume this event could occur as a “hypothetical event” in the interest of being conservative when it comes to emergency preparedness and response planning.