Design of Noncaving Mine Openings

Duvall, Wilbur I.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 7
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION This chapter outlines some general principles and procedures that a rock mechanics engineer can use to arrive at a logical design for the size, shape, and spacings of underground openings in various types of com¬petent rock formations. Rock formations can be clas¬sified into six major categories which are useful for design purposes, provided the necessary input data are available regarding the geology of the site, the physical properties of the rock, the in-situ stress field in the rock, and the general geometry of the underground openings. The US Bureau of Mines (USBM) developed a rock classification system based upon these concepts and found it to be useful for design purposes (Obert, et al., 1960; Obert and Duvall, 1967). This classification sys¬tem is given in Table 1; however, an extra column has been added to the original classification to indicate the appropriate design techniques for each rock class. In this classification system, two main classes of rock are considered: competent rock and incompetent rock. Competent Rock Competent rock is any rock which, because of its mechanical and geological characteristics, is capable of sustaining underground openings without the aid of any structural support except that provided by unmined rock in the form of pillars and side walls, etc. Roof bolts and small random props which support only local loose rock are not considered structural supports. Competent rock is further subdivided into three ad¬ditional categories-massive, laminated, and jointed¬ which are defined as follows: Massive Rock: Massive rock is a rock formation where the spacing between mechanical defects such as joints, partings, or faults is equal to or greater than the critical dimensions of openings, or where the strength of the bond across these mechanical defects is com¬parable to the rock strength. Laminated Rock: Laminated rock is a rock forma¬tion divided by approximately parallel planes of weak¬ness into lamina whose thicknesses are small compared to critical dimensions of openings and where the bond between the lamina is weak compared to the rock strength. Elastic Rock-This is rock whose physical proper¬ties will permit the use of elastic theory to predict strains and displacements from applied stresses. Inelastic Rock-This is rock whose physical proper¬ties are such that strains and displacements are a strong function of time as well as applied stress. Incompetent Rock Incompetent rock is any rock which, because of its mechanical and geologic characteristics, is not capable of sustaining underground openings without the aid of additional structural support in the form of linings, steel sets, or systems of props. This classification system for rock depends not only on the mechanical and geologic characteristics of the rock but on the size of openings and their depth be¬low the surface. For example, many competent rocks at shallow depths for small stress fields could become inelastic rock at greater depths and larger stress fields, or competent massive rock for small openings could be¬come laminated or jointed rock for larger openings. Thus, to classify rock for design purposes requires a knowledge of the geologic properties of the rock mass, the physical properties of the rock, the general size of the openings to be mined, and the average range of the in-situ stress field to be encountered. To design underground openings and structures in rock, it is necessary to use criteria of failure for rock under various stress conditions, and to use safety factors to allow for differences between laboratory and in-situ strength properties of rock and to account for errors in¬troduced by the various assumptions made in the design process. Criteria of failure based on maximum stresses have been found to give reliable results in practice. Thus, it is assumed that rock will fail in tension when the tensile stress exceeds the tensile strength of the rock as determined by a standard modulus of rupture test on samples of rock core. If the tensile stresses in rock are small, then it is assumed that the rock will fail at a value of compressive stress equal to the compressive strength of the rock as determined by standard uniaxial compres¬sive strength tests on samples of rock core. These fail¬ure criteria, when used with appropriate safety factors, can be expressed as:
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