Coal Strength Variation by Lithotype for High-Volatile a Bituminous Coal in the Central Appalachian Basin

Rusnak, John A.
Organization: International Conference on Ground Control in Mining
Pages: 10
Publication Date: Jan 1, 2017
"This paper discusses the variation of coal strength based on the megascopic coal lithotypes for Central Appalachian high-volatile A coal beds. The composition of coal beds is complex and variable, depending on the depositional environment associated with original plant material, inflow of clastic material, and water level fluctuations in the original swamp/mire environment. Thus, different types of coal and sediment are formed within each coal bed. These differences in coal composition were first classified by Marie Stopes, a paleobotanist, in 1919. The classic coal megascopic lithotypes are vitrain, clarain, and durain, which correspond to bright, bright banded, and dull coal, respectively. Stopes also identified that the lithotype fusain, which is mineral charcoal, has no inherent strength and can act as a plane of discontinuity. In this study, two other coal-bed lithologies are also considered—bone and carbonaceous shale. This makes for a comprehensive suite of coal-bed stratigraphic components apart from rock partings. A total of 1,000 uniaxial compressive strength (UCS) and 440 indirect tensile strength (ITS) tests were conducted on cores from southern West Virginia that were specifically logged and described using the megascopic coal lithotype nomenclature. Statistical analysis is presented showing the results for each lithotype group with mechanical properties correlated to the lithotype. Previous studies have analyzed the mechanical breakage properties associated with coal lithotypes, which correlate well with these results. However, coal rank does appear to be a contributing factor, and this study is confined to only high-volatile A bituminous rank. Application of these results would be well suited to a rock mass classification system to address coal pillar rib stability. This would allow for rib support design and implementation to consider relative coal strength by visual observation of the seam stratigraphy through ongoing observations within a mine. Changes in seam composition can be readily identified, allowing the adjustment in rib support design. Another application would be for the determination of numerical modeling inputs based on detailed seam stratigraphy. However, these results, even with the standard strength reduction criteria, may not be applicable to currently accepted empirical coal pillar design procedures."
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