Data-centric flow liquefaction assessment and biomediated tailings improvement: towards safe closure of tailings dams

Oil sands tailings storage facilities need to be closed and reclaimed at the end of their operational life and transitioned into landform configurations. Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) Manual 19 required 'flowable tailings' to be removed or mitigated for closure of tailings storage facilities (TSF); this mandate concerns a particular devastating failure mode, i.e., flow liquefaction, that affects both the operation and closure of TSF. However, AER 19 does not explicitly define the material characteristics that constitute flowability at closure, mainly due to the lack of understanding of the mechanics of flow liquefaction. There is a critical need to understand the mitigate flowable tailings for operation, closure and reclamation of TSF to reduce the risk of flow liquefaction to As Low As Reasonably Practicable. This work aims to develop a mechanics-based data-centric tool to assess tailings susceptibility to flow liquefaction and to reduce materials mobility through environmentally conscious biocementation. The goal is to enhance a safe operational-to-closure landform transition.