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Stability analysis comparison of conventional valley-fill to geomorphic landform designs

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2014, Vol. 336, No. 1, pp. 414-420

Russell, H.; DePriest, N.; Quaranta, J.D.


Valley-fill structures built of blasted rock overburden from Appalachian mountaintop surface mines pose many reclamation challenges. The steep mountainous terrain, short valley lengths, and straight stream channel profiles create significant challenges to implementing fluvial geomorphic landform design in terms of both form and function, and from a safety and constructability perspective. The fluvial geomorphic landform design approach balances erosive and resistive forces by considering long-term climatic conditions, soil types, slope profiles and vegetation types. Commercial geomorphic landform design software tools do not specifically analyze the stability and factor of safety for the

computer-designed landform slopes. 
  This research investigated slope stability parameters and factors of safety between a traditional valley-fill design with a geomorphic landform alternative. Slope stability assessments were performed on two profile geometries. Finite-element modeling of a permitted valley-fill and a geomorphic design alternative indicated that slope angle and internal angles of friction associated with the gradation of the overburden greatly affected the designed factor of safety for both designs. The geomorphic designed slopes yielded the highest factors of safety out of 14 models analyzed with all cases having factors of safety over 2.0. The high factors of safety are attributed to shallow slopes and beneficial surface and internal drainage.