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It is often necessary to densify loose granular soils to achieve acceptable foundation performance of structures, particularly in areas of seismic activity where it is necessary to reduce soil liquefaction and seismic deformation potential. Compaction in granular soils is achieved by vibration, typically either by insertion of a large vibrating poker into the ground (vibro-compaction) or by frequent drops of a large mass from a great height (deep dynamic compaction). Increases in building code design accelerations for structures in potential seismic areas and the resulting increase in the requirement for densification has led to investigation of the potential for use of explosive compaction (EC) as an economic alternative to the more traditional techniques.

Explosive compaction also has application in the
mining sector where it can be used to shake down tailings ponds provided the tailings consist of essentially non-plastic silt and sand-size particles. In this way, the volume of the existing tailings is reduced, increasing the storage capacity of the tailings impoundment and minimizing the need to raise the crest elevation of the tailings containment dyke.

A further application of EC in the mining sector relates to the use of explosive detonations in unsaturated granular material comprising heap leach pads to destructure the heap material. This destructuring process breaks down preferred drainage channels and eliminates blockages in flow path, thereby improving the flow capacity of the heap and increasing the efficiency and recovery within the heap leach pad.

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