A Study Of Longwall Subsidence In The Appalachian Coal Region Using Field Measurements And Computer Modeling Techniques

Karmis, M.
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1981
For several centuries surface subsidence has been recognized as an inevitable consequence of most underground mining. In fact, British court records of disputes and litigations related to property damage due to mining subsidence can be traced to the early fifteenth century (Shadbolt, 1978). The first systematic investigations of the mechanisms involved in mining subsidence can be credited to Belgian Mining Engineers. The re- search effort was initiated after the widespread movements and the resulting structural damages suffered by the City of Liege in the 1920's. The publication of Gonot's 1871 treatise "Loie de la NomZ" (normal theory) was one of the most not- able achievements of the Belgian school of that era (Gonot, 1871). During the past 100 years the phenomenon of mining subsidence has been the subject of intensive research, particularly in Europe where long- wall is the most common method of underground coal mining. Many theories have been advanced to explain the mechanism of ground movement as it develops from the excavation, through the superincumbent strata, to the surface. Such theories include the original concepts of beams, arches, domes and the contemporary mathematical modeling principles of strata movement assuming two extreme concepts-- a continuous elastic medium and a stochastic medium for the superincumbent strata. An excellent review of the development of these theories ?-s given by Shadbolt (Shadbolt, 1978). In conjunction with the theories of mass strata movement in the vicinity of mine workings, the subject of surface subsidence predictions has also been the subject of extensive research. The development of reliable and rational techniques of subsidence prediction is imperative, if this phenomenon is to be recognized and controlled within acceptable environmental levels. Empirical as well as mathematical methods have been proposed to fulfill this objective and a comprehensive analysis of these methods has been presented in the literature (Bramer, 1973; Shad- bolt, 1978; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 1980). As a result of this intensive research effort, it is now accepted in many )coal fields-- mainly in Europe-- that the state of art in subsidence prediction and control has approached a level where mining induced surface displacements can be predicted to a suggested accuracy of less than + 20 percent. Furthermore, such movements can be translated into anticipated structural failures using established damage criteria, thus enabling appropriate precautionary measures to be implemented. In this country, subsidence is rapidly gaining emphasis as an important environmental problem of underground coal mining. Damage resulting from this phenomenon ranges from land settlement to severe structural damage and has been witnessed in rural (Illinois, Colorado, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania) as well as in urban areas (Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Illinois, Wyoming). Yet, the art of subsidence prediction and hence control in this country, for both longwall and room-and-pillar coal mining, is far from approaching the maturity reached by the Europeans. In this paper, field measurments and computer modeling techniques have been used to develop some basic relationships of longwall subsidence and its related parameters. Because the objective of this study was to develop regional subsidence trends, all processed information pertains to the Appalachian coal region.
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