Computer-based landscape evolution models offer the ability to evaluate landscape stability over the short (annual), medium (decades to hundreds of years) and long-term (thousands of years). Modeling has advantages in that design ideas can be tested, different surface material properties can be evaluated and risk analysis carried out. Landscape evolution models allow landscape surface change through time. These models also offer the advantage that the landscape can be evaluated visually as it develops through time, which is not possible with other types of models. Landscape evolution models can be used for not only soil loss assessment (i.e. tonnes/hectare/year), but also to evaluate the method of soil loss (i.e. rill or interrill erosion). This study examines a range of waste rock dump designs for the Minera Alumbrera Ltd. copper mine, Argentina. An erosion assessment using the SIBERIA erosion model over a 1000-year simulation period demonstrates waste rock dump designs using a conventional stepped design of backsloping benches and caps with angle of repose slopes provide the lowest average erosion rates and depths of incision than do other designs. Caution should be applied in interpreting these results as the SIBERIA erosion model is sensitive to parameter input and in this case was calibrated and run using a generic set of parameters that are not site specific. Nevertheless, the results provide a guide as to the strengths and weaknesses of different rehabilitation designs and demonstrate the insights that modeling studies can provide.
Environmental Geology Vol. 49, Issue 5, p. 765-779