In Situ Rock Stress Determination: Techniques and Applications

Aggson, James R. ; Hooker, Verne E.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 8
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS The design of a mine or any underground opening in rock is similar to the design of any other structure, such as a building or a bridge, in one important way. This similarity lies in the fact that the stability of the structure is a function of the loads that will be applied during the structure's expected lifetime. In the case of an underground opening, the applied load is the product of the existing in situ stress field and the concentration of this field that is produced by the extraction of a load¬bearing material. Thus, a knowledge of the in situ stress field is considered a basic requirement in the design process and essential to the eventual stability of the underground structure (Duvall, 1976; Obert, 1972; Merrill and Peterson, 1961; Dahl and von Schonfeldt, 1976; Hedley and Wilson, 1975). The in situ stress field can be used along with the physical properties of the rock masses involved, the ge¬ometry of the various rock types, the geometry of the openings involved, and a failure criterion to evaluate structural stability of a planned mine by theoretical or numerical techniques. This same information can be used to investigate ground control problems in existing mines. In situ rock stress determinations can be separated into three categories: the determination of applied stress, also called the absolute or field stress; the deter¬mination of concentrations of the field stress near open¬ ings; and the determination of changes in rock stress as load-bearing material is removed. The applied stress field is more difficult to determine than are stress changes. Various instruments and techniques have been developed to determine applied rock stress and stress changes in rock. ABSOLUTE OR FIELD STRESSES Theoretical Considerations In the absence of actual measurements, it is often assumed that at any point, the vertical stress is equal to the weight of the overlying material. [ ] where S„ is vertical stress, S is average weight density of overburden rock, and h is depth from the surface. This is normally consistent with actual experience. The horizontal stresses are assumed to be equal and related to the vertical stress through the Poisson effect. [] where Sh is horizontal stress, S„ is vertical stress, and v is Poisson's ratio. The derivation of Eq. 2 is dependent on lateral con¬finement of the rock mass. An increasing amount of information is rapidly becoming available which indi¬cates that the in situ stress field at a particular location cannot simply be assumed to be a gravity-induced stress distribution in which the secondary principal stresses in the horizontal plane are due to confinement and Pois¬son's effect. Rather they can be a complex function of gravity loading, regional stresses, structural features, ex¬cavation geometries, and variations in surface and/or possibly basement rock topography. Furthermore, the underground principal stress dis¬tribution is not necessarily vertical and horizontal as is often assumed. The deviation of the three-dimensional stress distribution from vertical and horizontal can be due to a combination of both topographic (Hooker, Bickel, and Aggson, 1972) and structural features.
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