Analysis of Extensometer Data from a Room Widening Experiment Designed to Induce a Roof Fall

Dolinar, Dennis R.
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1997
Roof falls, even of supported roof, still constitute a major hazard in underground mines. However, associated with any fall or instability is a pattern of roof movement. Therefore, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Pittsburgh Research Center, has been conducting research into the development of practical extensometer systems that can be used to measure this displacement and to determine if a roof fall may occur, thus increasing miner safety. For extensometers to be used in the detection of potential roof falls in coal mines, an understanding of the movement and displacement rates that will lead to roof failure is required. Because roof falls are unpredictable, it is often very difficult to obtain this information. Therefore, in a coal mine in the lower Kittanning seam in Pennsylvania, a room widening experiment was conducted to intentionally cause a roof fall while roof movement data was collected. In this experiment, two adjacent rooms 5.5 m (18 ft) wide supported with 1.5 m (5 ft) resin-grouted bolts and instrumented with extensometers were widened to 9 m (30 ft). In one of the rooms, 3.6 m (12 ft) cable bolts were installed as supplemental support. In the room with no additional support, a roof fall occurred 72 h after the room was widened. Much of the 3 cm (1.2 in) of movement in this room resulted from the instantaneous and transient response to mining with displacement rates up to 7.6 cm/d (3 in/d) being measured. This was followed by a steady state displacement phase with a rate of 0.43 cm/d (0.17 in/d). Just 12 h before the fall, movement deeper in the roof caused the rate to accelerate to 1.1 cm/d (0.44 in/d). The roof in the room with the supplemental cable support did not fall even though the total roof deformation was over 7.6 cm (3 in). Significant roof movements and strains in the cabled room were detected to a depth of 3 m (10 ft) while maximum cable loads were over 180 kN (40,000 lbf). Essentially, the roof was in postfailure with the cables maintaining the material, while roof stability was indicated by a steady state displacement rate of only 0.025 cm/d (0.01 in/d) at the end of the test.
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