In his Nash Lecture in 1989, Burland presented the concept of what he referred to as the Soil Mechanics Triangle. The three apexes of the triangle were identified as Ground Profile, Soil Behaviour and Applied Mechanics, and embedded within the triangle and linked to all three apexes the notion of empiricism and well-winnowed experience. Burland used this concept to emphasise the critical and interlinked nature of the three triangle apexes when teaching Soil Mechanics to undergraduate students. This paper applies the triangle to the current state of practice regarding tailings dam management, highlighting how lack of attention to the concepts embedded in Burland’s approach have resulted in sometimes catastrophic consequences. Using the published forensic reports on two recent, major tailings dam failures around the world, the paper illustrates how they may have been avoided if a proper appreciation of the three pillars of good practice suggested by Burland had been adhered to. It also argues for more rigorous training in geotechnical engineering and engineering geology of practitioners working in the field of tailings engineering.
|Number of pages||5|
|Publication status||Published - 2020|