Soil Profiling of Pleistocene Deposits in the Athabasca Oil Sands using SCPTu

Pleistocene deposits including glaciofluvial sand, glaciolacustrine clay, and glacial till are commonly encountered within tailings dam foundations in the Athabasca oilsands region north of Fort McMurray, Alberta. These deposits, where present, may control the stability of tailings dams. Over the years, site investigation programs have been carried out in the region to characterize the Pleistocene deposits using in-situ and laboratory testing. The Seismic Cone Penetration Test (SCPTu) is a reliable and a cost-effective tool for profiling soil deposits based on soil behaviour characteristics. Initial screening with SCPTu profiling in combination with understanding the deposition history and loading conditions enables engineers to determine an appropriate combination of in-situ and laboratory testing to obtain design parameters for geotechnical analysis. This paper provides a high-level description of the geologic deposition history for the Pleistocene deposits in the Athabasca Oil Sands region and presents SCPTu profiling for three major Oil Sands sites.

Elbanna, M., M. Lederman, J. Quinn, S. Martens, C. Klassen, P. Cavanagh and J. Polak. 2019. “Soil Profiling of Pleistocene Deposits in the Athabasca Oil Sands using SCPTu,” in Proceedings of GeoStJohns, Under Land & Sea: 72nd Canadian Geotechnical Conference, St. John’s, Newfoundland, September 29 – October 2, 2019. St. John’s, NL: Canadian Geotechnical Society.