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|Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are studying the time- dependent response of rock stressed along weakness planes. The objective is to improve mine safety by reducing the number of roof falls that cause injuries and fatalities to miners. Researchers conducted direct- shear tests on mudstone overcored from a coal mine roof. Results showed frictional strength weakens with displacement along the shearing planes. Results of direct-shear creep tests also showed time-dependent deformation. Test measurements were compared to classical analytical models. Results suggest that the risk of roof collapse may be decreased through layout and support design to reduce creep rates and thus slow progression toward failure.|