Analysis Of Sudden Floor Heave In Deep Western U.S. Mines - Preprint 09-010

Maleki, H.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2009
As mining continues toward deeper reserves in thick western US coal fields, the control of mining induced-seismicity has become a priority in many operations in Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming. Gradual floor heave, common in many coal mines, has historically not been a safety issue. However recent occurrences of sudden floor heave accompanied with seismicity in a few deep mines have fueled this investigation. The focus is to identify and study the mechanisms resulting in sudden heaving of the mine floor in western U.S. deep coal mines through analytical calculations and back analyses of an actual event in a cooperative mine. Based on review of available data in three mines, underground observations and back analyses of an actual event, the authors have identified the following contributing factors (1) presence of stiff stratigraphic units and thick seams mined at depths exceeding 1000-ft (2) presence of geological discontinuities reducing the in-situ strength of the coal with calculated factor of safety near 1 for the mine floor (3) mining approaching areas of higher than normal stress gradient associated with previous mining or structural anomalies or surface topographic highs and (4) an additional source of energy triggering sudden failure such as periodic caving or slip along geological discontinuities. Preliminary examination of seismic data for the actual event in the cooperative mine and underground observations excluded fault slip at the mining horizon as the triggering mechanism but highlighted the significance of weak, anisotropic strata conditions near the intersection of two faults.
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