SOMA: A New Method to Calculate the Operative Stress Field: Results from the Laurel Mountain Mine, Russell Co., Virginia

Byington, Craig
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2004
The stress-field orientation mapping and analysis (SOMA) technique for determining the operative stress field near mine workings and its relationship to various fracture sets is described using Dickenson-Russell Coal Company's Laurel Mountain mine as an example. Carried to its practical application, this technique ultimately defines the optimal orientation for the mine workings wherein pillars, rather than rock bolts or other roof support methods, dominantly shoulder support of the highest-probability, potential, roof-fall blocks. It also provides a predictive tool describing local variability in rock deformation and in secondary roof support methods. Fracture discontinuities within a rock mass, either as pre¬existing natural fractures or as mining-induced fractures, are uniquely necessary for every brittle-deformation ground failure including roof falls. Prediction and mitigation of roof falls requires quantifying the interaction between the fracture sets and the operative principal-compressive¬ stress-axis orientation (olo). The SOMA technique utilizes the interaction between fractures and 61o, specifically their dilation or closure, to calculate the orientation of 610, and to estimate the orientations of 62o and o3o. A stereonet program is used to organize and statistically analyze the fracture data, and then to determine the optimal orientation for the mine workings. The final step in the SOMA technique involves modeling the Laurel Mountain mine using a 2-D, finite-element, modeling program. This assures that the interpretations regarding the optimal working orientation closely match the deformation features observed in the mine. It also provides a predictive tool describing highly variable stress and strain partitioning, seemingly erratic rock-bolt failures and the interactions between different sets of mine workings within different coal seams. The critical importance of including the fracture sets is well illustrated in the Laurel Mountain mine where the effects of earlier mining of an underlying seam is contrasted in both a fractured and otherwise identical non-fractured model to illustrate the consequences of ignoring fractures in a predictive roof-fall model.
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