Topography and Coal Seam Initial Stress Estimation: a Sensitivity Study

Whyatt, Jeffrey K
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 9
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2011
Estimation of the initial vertical stress carried in a coal seam is an important first step in virtually all methods of evaluating the required size of pillars in coal mines. Such estimates are a trivial exercise in coal fields overlain by gently undulating topography. The LaModel program is easily and routinely applied in such cases to efficiently estimate mining-induced stresses throughout the coal seam. However, application of LaModel to coal mines operating under rugged topography and/or in tectonically disturbed regions is more difficult. LaModel estimates stresses in a twostep process. Topographic and multi-seam mining effects on insitu stresses are estimated in an initial step, and then mininginduced stresses are estimated in an independent second step. A LaModel program function has recently been introduced that decouples these two steps, allowing in-situ stresses to be directly entered from a file rather than calculated. One application of this function is to streamline sensitivity studies by avoiding repeated recalculation of in-situ stress. The function also allows importation of in-situ stress estimates developed by other means. There are no constraints on the imported stress field, which may include significant stress perturbations due to topography, faults, etc. Hence, the range of geologic environments that can be examined by LaModel is significantly increased. This study uses the new decoupling function in an exploration of in-situ stress estimation in mountainous terrain. One option is to use the topographic stress estimation feature included within the LaModel program, and the influence of important parameters in this routine is explored. Another option explored is importation of results from a detailed volume element model. Results of this study suggest that the method used to estimate in-situ stress, and the details of its execution, can have a significant impact for mines in mountainous terrain with strong overburden. More generally, decoupling is an efficient and flexible function that should be considered for most design studies.
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