Capillary barriers for covering mine wastes

Publication Name

Tailings and Mine Waste '96


Capillary barriers, consisting of fine-over-coarse soil layers, can serve as a long-lived, low-cost surface cover system for mining-related wastes. Water is held in the fine layer by capillary forces, increasing the storage capacity of the soil and more effectively utilizing evapotranspiration processes for water removal. Simulations of the performance of capillary barriers, simple soil covers, and covers utilizing compacted soil layers are compared for a climate representative of northern New Mexico. Capillary barriers are shown to be effective at limiting percolation of water and oxygen diffusion through the cover system.

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