Archive for the ‘Geology’ Category


I have just added a blog new to me to the blogroll on the right-hand side of this page.  The blog is called  The Economic Geologist.  It would appear to have been going since earlier this month.  Here is how he describes himself: (more…)

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Categories are constructs of our imagination.  We define categories to aid our thinking, analysis, and decision-making.  It is easier to respond immediately if a stimulus fits a preconceived category, than to analyze afresh.  A rustle in the brush fits the definition of the category “Tiger in the woods; the tiger could kill us; therefore flee.”   Why analyze the situation to decide that the wind is merely blowing through the trees and making a nasty sound? (more…)

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Beaches have a way of attracting attention.  Hoards of curvy North Americans flock each year to ocean-side resorts just to sit in pools and stare at beaches.  Early explorers travelling by sea sought coves with protected sandy beaches to land their parties and fly their flag.  Even whales and sharks, distracted by the bounty of an intertidal buffet have tested shallow waters, only to leave themselves high and dry.

Tailings engineers are no less immune to the draw of beaches, though you won’t find many tailings engineers modelling the latest swimwear on sub-tropical shores (if I am wrong here, I do apologize, and please send us your latest vacation photos).  Beaches have a different meaning to folks on a mine. (more…)

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This is a story of a time before computers; before groundwater conceptual models, numerical models, baseline models, and predictive models; before groundwater model calibration, verification, or sensitivity analysis.  This is a story of a time when there was no such thing as a professional geohydrologist, hydrogeologists, or groundwater modeller.  (more…)

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    This week, EduMine posted a new course that I wrote.  As is the title of this posting, the new course is called Geotechnical Engineering for Mine GeoWaste Facilities.  

I was prompted to write the course when I was called on to explain to a client who is not a geotechnical engineer what is involved in geotechnical engineering.  This client was in charge of the design and construction of a large tailings impoundment that involves nearly every aspect of geotechnical engineering.  He asked me fundamental questions that demanded a wider knowledge base than a simple answer could provide.  Thus I wrote a few short pieces for him and then more short pieces to expand on topics.  Eventually it was obvious we needed a complete course.  So I wrote it.

The course covers pretty much the complete spectrum of geotechnical engineering as applicable to mine tailings impoundments, waste rock dumps, and heap leach pads.  I write from my own experience, including over forty years as a consultant to the mining industry.  During that time I have been lucky enough to work on the geotechnical engineering aspects of all these large structures that I collectively refer to as Mine GeoWaste Facilities. 

I contemplated a course on tailings impoundments alone.  But the topic seemed insurmountable.  Apart from that, there is so much written and readily available about the fundamentals of tailings impoundments that I could not face going into competition with so many excellent texts.   Moreover, it was clear from interaction with my client that a more fundamental look at the basics was needed.  Thus in the course I go back to the fundamentals of soil mechanics that underlie every tailings storage facility, every waste rock dump, and every heap leach pad.

If the topic interests you, I recommend going to the links I provide above, join EduMine, and read the course.  Please tell me how you fare and help me add to future updates of the course by telling me your stories.  Thanks

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 This posting is intended as a small contribution to the debate about the Pebble Mine in Alaska.  This posting is prompted by the oil in the sea from those who prefer oil to uranium.  That is the miner in me talking.  Sorry to the oil and gas men.  And to the birds and fishermen.  (more…)

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Here is a story that I was told long ago–the details are shrouded in the mists of history, but the story is worth repeating for the lessons learnt are always relevant.   (more…)

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