Modeling of settlement in saturated and unsaturated municipal landfills

Durmusoglu, Ertan
Corapcioglu, M.Yavuz
Tuncay, Kağan
Municipal solid waste (MSW) landfills are not only used to dispose the refuse in most economical way but also utilized as a viable land in today’s waste management strategy. Settlement prediction is an important issue in order to guarantee the integrity of any postclosure structure on landfills. In this study, landfill settlement in saturated and unsaturated landfills is investigated by developing a one-dimensional mathematical model and performing numerical experiments. Under the saturated conditions, the landfill is considered to be completely liquid saturated by preventing gas generation at all times. On the other hand, for the unsaturated case, we assume that a gas mixture comprised of methane and carbon dioxide is generated as a result of microbial decomposition of MSW deposited. The gas generation is assumed to follow a first-order kinetic approach. The liquid phase and gas mixture are considered compressible as well as the solid matrix (landfill body). After the governing equations were discretized using the Galerkin finite-element method, the Gaussian elimination technique is employed for a solution. In saturated landfills, the settlement is mainly caused by the overburden weight of the waste deposited. Further, the mass loss due to waste decomposition contributes for an additional settlement in unsaturated landfills. The predicted settlements are within the range reported in the literature. The model developed can simulate porosity, pressures, saturations, and stress profiles in settling landfills as well as to predict the transient and ultimate settlements in saturated and unsaturated landfills.