Blasting Effects and Their Control

Oriard, Lewis L.
Organization: Society for Mining, Metallurgy & Exploration
Pages: 14
Publication Date: Jan 1, 1982
INTRODUCTION In recent years, there has been a trend in the direction of larger drilling equipment and larger diameter blastholes. Although this change has improved the efficiencies and reduced the costs in many operations, it has increased the potential for damage to underground openings. In addition, in many instances one now finds more sophisticated delicate instruments, automated control facilities, and a large variety of structures in proximity to blasting activity. The combined effect of larger-scale blasting activity and its proximity to various features of interest is such that there is an increased need for a more refined analysis of blasting effects and their control. BLASTING EFFECTS ON ROCK SURFACES The Breakage Mechanism In order to develop techniques for controlled blasting, one must first understand the features of the mechanisms by which blasting causes rock breakage to occur. These features have not been easy to demonstrate, mostly due to the difficulty in making tests and observations at the high stress levels and short time durations involved. When an explosive charge is detonated, the material surrounding the charge is subjected to a nearly instantaneous, very high pressure [on the order of 1.4 to 13.8 GPa (0.2 to 2.0 X 106 psi), depending on the explosive]. If the charge is coupled to "average" rock, this pressure will pulverize the surrounding rock for a distance on the order of 1 to 3 charge radii in hard rock, and to a greater distance in softer rock (this is also dependent on the type of explosive). As the pressure wave passes into the rock, high tangential stresses cause radial cracks to appear, and the nearly discontinuous radial stress zones gen¬erated by the shock front may cause tangential cracks to appear. The extent of these cracks depends on the energy available in the explosive, how quickly the energy is transmitted to the rock, and the strength properties of the rock. The discontinuous shock front is quickly dis¬sipated, but the expanding gases generate a longer-acting pressure. A compressive pulse travels to the nearest face or internal rock boundary where it is reflected in tension. The tensile strengths of most rocks are roughly 40 to %o of their compressive strengths, so the rock may now fail in tension whereas it may have been able to support the diminished compressive phase without failure. The ten¬sile deflection typically produces a failure described as tensile slabbing or scabbing. Laboratory experiments and field experience have pretty well established that several mechanisms are involved. These include (1) the classical case of tensile parallel slabbing when the pressure pulse is reflected at a free surface; (2) failure under quasi-static compressive loading (the shape is normally irregular due to discontinuities in the rock); (3) radial cracking under the action of tangential stresses at the periphery of the expanding pressure pulse; (4) peripheral cracking at the discontinuous shock front which is quickly dissipated; and (5) additional mass shifting due to the venting of the explosive gases. The first three items have received much attention in the laboratory and the literature. The complex effects of gas venting are difficult to test in the laboratory because of the difficulty in reproducing the many weak planes and discontinuities typical of most field conditions, which play such a prominent role in determining the behavior of the rock mass subjected to blasting. Unfortunately, gas venting effects can be pro¬jected to significant distances under certain field conditions, and are sometimes difficult to control. It is not unusual for gas venting to be the overriding factor in determining the final geometric shape and physical condition of the finished excavation. Sources of Damage For the purposes of this discussion, damage includes not only the breaking and rupturing of rock beyond the desired limits of excavation but also an unwanted loosening, dislocation, and disturbance of the rock mass the integrity of which one wishes to preserve (such as mine pillars, underground openings, etc.). The sources of damage include, of course, all those physical features of the rock breakage mechanism. Each of these effects must be limited to the desired zone of breakage and excavation if the integrity of the remaining rock mass is to remain undiminished. The primary zone of rock breakage usually can be controlled in the normal process of field experimentation to determine proper charge sizes and location for primary excavation. However, it frequently happens that there is damage from sources which are more difficult to account for in the design process, which are often overlooked. These are (1) the overbreak due to poor drilling control, (2) dislocation of rock (mass shifting) due to venting of explosive gases, and (3) loosening or dislocation due to the influence of seismic waves (ground vibrations). CONTROL OF ROCK BREAKAGE Importance of Geometry In studying the rock mass and blasting design con¬siderations, it is important to keep in mind the geometric relationships among charge size, shape, and position, and the physical features of the rock mass to be preserved. The features of principal interest are the external shape and position of the rock mass relative to blasting, and the position and attitude of any weak planes in the rock mass. The Sequence of Blasting and Excavation Events Unfortunately, there are too many times when the task of preserving delicate rock is considered hopeless, and because of this attitude, no further effort is ex¬pended towards caution or control. In such cases there is often a failure to recognize the importance of the se¬quence of the procedures. Attention to this can greatly reduce unwanted effects at minimum cost. Perimeter Control The requirements for perimeter control are highly dependent on the special needs of each particular proj¬ect. The desirable degree of control is a highly variable
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