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Products Tailings Dams Monitoring

Geological Stress Detection Systems for Tailings Dams Monitoring

Tailings Dams are massive structures used all over for the bulk storage of mineral processing wastes. These earthen structures can measure tens of kilometers in length and width and be hundreds of meters tall. In terms of total volume, tailings dams are the most significant manmade structures in existence. However, the tailings dam failure rate has doubled over the last 20 years. Failures of tailings dams are the worst-case scenario for any mineral extraction operation. Events causing loss of life, environmental fines reaching billions of dollars, and the loss of facility infrastructure and production are a significant concern.

HAWK Fiber Optics, a leading provider of fiber optic tailings dam monitoring systems, has developed a solution to prevent tailings dam failure. HAWK's Praetorian Geological Stress Detection System utilizes fiber optic sensing technology for the real-time monitoring of field strain within earthen structures. This revolutionary technology uses fiber optic cables inserted into the structure through drilled boreholes. These cables monitor field strain and deflection caused by dam loading and report the borehole position and depth where the strain or deflection occurs within the retaining wall structure. Sensitivities achievable with the Praetorian Geological Stress Detection System mean that potential issues with ground shift can be detected and intercepted well before visual symptoms of structural problems appear.

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Principle of Operation

Strain Detection

Brillouin Backscatter is the primary physical principle for sensing temperature and strain within fiber optics. The sensing cable is deployed in boreholes drilled into the dam wall and spaced to intercept geotechnically essential features within the dam wall.

Temperature Compensation

Brillouin DTS Temperature profiling within the wall structure is undertaken to prevent ground or groundwater temperature changes from impacting strain measurements within the strata profile. Temperature readings are accurate down to ±0.25°C (±32.45°F), which allows for error-free strain measurement.

Temperature Detection

One of the significant precursor events to dam failure is the seepage of liquid through the dam wall. Detection of this seepage is possible by utilizing fiber optics embedded in the surface of the dam wall, where the detection of the lower temperature of leaking fluids moves through the warmer structure of the wall.

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  • Coal mines (Hazardous area Suitable)
  • Hardrock Mines
  • Unmanned Tailings Facilities
  • Historical Sites of concern
  • Ecological or safety-critical structures
  • Tailings Dams
  • Open Pit Mines (Shelf Stability)
  • Tailings Reprocessing projects
  • Reservoirs
  • Embankments
  • Levies and Flood Barriers



  • Early Warning system
  • Smaller faults found earlier
  • Personnel-free operation (fully automatic)
  • Suitable for remote alert/alarm configuration.
  • Email Reporting and SMS alarm integration compatible
  • Removes personnel from the line of fire
  • Online
  • Slope Stability 
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Dimensions & Specifications

  • 4RU 19" Rack Enclosure (190x600x490mm)

Contact Us to Learn More

Contact us today to learn about our fiber optic tailings dam monitoring and geological stress detection systems. We also offer fiber optic sensing products for applications such as conveyor health monitoring systems, perimeter security and threat detection, pipeline monitoring and leak detection, and power cable monitoring. 

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AU: +61 (0)3 9873 4750