Shear-slip induced seismic activity in underground mines: a case study in Western Australia

Marc Reimnitz

Research output: ThesisMaster's Thesis

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Mining induced seismic activity and rockbursting are critical concerns for many underground operations. Seismic activity may arise from the crushing of highly stressed volumes of rock around mine openings or from shear motion on planes of weakness. Shear-slip on major planes of weakness such as faults, shear zones and weak contacts has long been recognized as a dominant mode of failure in underground mines. In certain circumstances, it can generate large seismic events and induce substantial damage to mine openings. The Big Bell Gold mine began experiencing major seismic activity and resultant damage in 1999. Several seismic events were recorded around the second graphitic shear between April 2000 and February 2002. It is likely that the seismic activity occurred as a result of the low strength of the shear structure combined with the high level of mining induced stresses. The stability of the second graphitic shear was examined in order to gain a better understanding of the causes and mechanisms of the seismic activity recorded in the vicinity of the shear structure as mining advanced. The data were derived from the observation of the structure exposures, numerical modelling and seismic monitoring. The numerical modelling predictions and the interpreted seismic monitoring data were subsequently compared in order to identify potential relationships between the two. This thesis proposes the Incremental Work Density (IWD) as a measure to evaluate the relative likelihood of shear-slip induced seismic activity upon major planes of weakness. IWD is readily evaluated using numerical modelling and is calculated as the product of the average driving shear stress and change in inelastic shear deformation during a given mining increment or step. IWD is expected to correlate with shear-slip induced seismic activity in both space and time. In this thesis, IWD was applied to the case study of the second graphitic shear at the Big Bell mine.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2004


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