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Block Caving Subsidence Analysis - Effect of geological structures //// for more info link to: https://sites.google.com/site/alexvyazmensky/

Block Caving Subsidence Analysis - Effect of geological structures //// for more info link to: https://sites.google.com/site/alexvyazmensky/

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Extraction of a massive volume of ore during block caving can lead to formation of significant surface subsidence. Current knowledge of subsidence development mechanisms is limited as are our subsidence prediction capabilities. Mining experience suggests that among other contributing factors geological structures play a particular important role in subsidence development. As part of the current research a conceptual modelling study is being undertaken to evaluate the significance of geological structure on surface subsidence development.
Extraction of a massive volume of ore during block caving can lead to formation of significant surface subsidence. Current knowledge of subsidence development mechanisms is limited as are our subsidence prediction capabilities. Mining experience suggests that among other contributing factors geological structures play a particular important role in subsidence development. As part of the current research a conceptual modelling study is being undertaken to evaluate the significance of geological structure on surface subsidence development.

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05/09/2014

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Numerical analysis of the influence of geological structures on thedevelopment of surface subsidence associated with block caving mining
A. Vyazmensky
 
Simon Fraser University, Canada
 
D. Elmo
Simon Fraser University, Canada
D. Stead
Simon Fraser University, Canada
 J. Rance
 Rockfield Technology Ltd, UK 
 
Abstract
 Extraction of a massive volume of ore during block caving can lead to formation of significant surface subsidence. Current knowledge of subsidence development mechanisms is limited as are our subsidence prediction capabilities. Mining experience suggests that among other contributing factors geological structures play a particular important role in subsidence development. As part of the current research a conceptual modelling study is being undertaken to evaluate the significance of geological structure on surface subsidencedevelopment. A novel finite/discrete element technique incorporating a coupled elasto-plastic fracturemechanics constitutive criterion is adopted; this allows physically realistic modelling of block caving through simulation of the transition from a continuum to a discontinuum. Numerical experiments presented highlight theimportance of joints orientation, fault location, and inclination, on subsidence development mechanisms and the governing role of geological structure in defining the degree of surface subsidence asymmetry.
1 Introduction
Block caving mining is characterized by extraction of a massive volume of rock usually accompanied by theformation of a significant surface depression above and in the vicinity of the mining operation. The ability topredict surface subsidence associated with block caving mining is important for mine planning, operationalhazard assessment and evaluation of environmental and socio-economic impacts.Owing to problems of scale and lack of access, the fundamental understanding of the complex rock massresponse leading to subsidence development is limited as are current subsidence prediction capabilities.Current knowledge of subsidence phenomena can be improved by employing numerical modellingtechniques in order to enhance our understanding of the basic factors governing subsidence development;essential if the required advances in subsidence prediction capability are to be achieved.A comprehensive numerical modelling study focused on block caving related surface subsidence is beingcarried out at the Simon Fraser University in collaboration with the University of British Columbia. As partof this research conceptual modelling is being undertaken to evaluate the relative significance of the factorsgoverning subsidence development.This paper investigates the role of geological structures in surface subsidence development through a seriesof numerical experiments employing state of the art finite element /discrete element modelling techniques.
2 Geological structures and block caving induced surface subsidence
Mining experience suggests a range of factors influencing the block caving surface subsidence footprintincluding geological structures (jointing and faults), rock mass strength, in-situ stress level, mining depth,varying geological domains and surface topography. Among other contributing factors many authors emphasizethe particular importance of the geological structures on surface subsidence development.A literature survey has shown that published accounts provide a general, qualitative rather than quantitative,description of the influence of geological structures on the observed subsidence, as summarized in Table 1.Such qualitative observations are useful for initial subsidence analysis, however they require further
 
 
validation. More research is needed to address the deficiency in quantitative data. Modelling presented in thispaper represents an initial attempt to address these issues.
Table 1 Influence of geological structure on block caving surface subsidence developmentGeologicalstructureInfluence on block caving subsidence Reference
JointsIn the absence of faults and dykes, joint dip governs the angle of break. Angleof break for a mine should be equal to the dip of the most prominent joint.Crane (1929),Wilson (1958)FaultsWhen a mining face encounters a significant discontinuity, such as a fault,with moderate to steep dip, movement will occur on the fault regardless of the cave angle through intact rock. A stepped crack will result where thefault daylights at surface. If mining is only on the hanging wall side of thefault there will only be surface movements on the one side. If the fault dipis steeper than the cave angle the extent of surface subsidence will bereduced, conversely, if the fault dip is less than the cave angle the extent of surface subsidence will be increased.Abel & Lee(1980),Stacey &Swart (2001),van As (2003)
 
3 New approach to numerical analysis of caving induced surface subsidence
Conventional numerical modelling techniques applied to the analysis of rock engineering problems treat therock mass either as a continuum or as a discontinuum. The use of finite element, finite difference methods isbased on the assumption that the rock mass behaves as a continuum medium. In contrast, distinct elementmethods (DEM) methods are based on the assumption of the rock mass as a discontinuum, consisting of anassembly or finite number of interacting singularities. Both continuum and discontinuum techniques providea convenient framework for the analysis of many complex engineering problems.One important limitation of continuum techniques is their inability to simulate the kinematic aspects of rock mass failure. The solutions based on discontinuum modelling are strongly dependant on the contactproperties of the discrete elements, which govern their interaction. Scalable and robust methods for obtainingthese properties are yet to be developed. Moreover, as indicated by Stead et al (2004), neither technique cancapture the interaction of existing discontinuities and the creation of new fractures through fracturing of theintact rock material. A key failure mechanism, rock brittle fracturing, can only be simulated indirectly.Block caving subsidence is a product of a complex rock mass response to caving. This response comprisesmassive failure of rock mass in tension and compression, along both existing discontinuities and throughintact rock bridges, and involving complex kinematic mechanisms. Clearly, the analysis of this phenomenonassuming a pure continuum or discontinuum model may not be adequate. It is evident that the numericaltreatment of such a complex problem necessitates consideration of a blend of continuous and discretecomputational processes to provide an adequate solution.In the current study a state-of-the-art hybrid continuum-discontinuum technique based on finite/discreteelement method (Munjiza et al, 1995) and fracture mechanics principles is adopted. An implementation of this approach using the numerical code ELFEN (Rockfield Software Ltd., 2007) is employed. The ELFENcode is a multipurpose FE/DE software package that utilizes a variety of constitutive criteria and is capableof undertaking both implicit and explicit analyses in 2-D and 3-D space. Capability exists to simulatecontinuum materials, jointed media and particle flow behaviour.In the combined finite-discrete element method the finite element-based analysis of continua is merged withdiscrete element-based transient dynamics, contact detection and contact interaction solutions (Munjiza,2004). Use of fracture mechanics principles in a context of finite-discrete element method allows the cavingprocess to be simulated in a physically realistic manner. Rock mass failure is simulated through a brittlefracture driven continuum to discontinuum transition with the development of new fractures and discreteblocks, and a full consideration of the failure kinematics. Table 2 compares continuum, discontinuum andhybrid continuum-discontinuum modelling techniques.
 
Table 2 Comparison of continuum, discontinuum and hybrid continuum-discontinuum modellingtechniquesModellingtechniqueNumericalmethodRock massrepresentationRock mass failure realization
Continuum FDM, FEM Continuous medium Flexural deformation, plastic yieldDiscontinuum DEM Assembly of deformableor rigid blocksBlock movement and/or block deformationAssembly of rigid bondedparticlesBond breakage, particle movementsHybrid continuum -discontinuum +fractureFEM/DEM Continuous medium Degradation of continuum intodiscrete deformable blocks throughfracturing and fragmentationThe simulation of fracturing, damage and associated softening in ELFEN is achieved by employing a fractureenergy approach controlled by a designated constitutive fracture criterion. The current study employed a Mohr-Coulomb model with a Rankine cut-off. A detailed description of this constitutive model can be found inKlerck (2000) and a summary of the ELFEN solution procedure is given by Owen et al (2004).It should be noted that the ELFEN computational methodology has been extensively tested and fullyvalidated against controlled laboratory tests by Yu (1999) and Klerck (2000). Among others, research byCoggan et al (2003), Cai & Kaiser (2004), Stead et al (2004) and Elmo (2006) has demonstrated thecapabilities of the code in the analysis of various rock mechanics problems involving brittle failure,including analysis of Brazilian, UCS and direct shear laboratory tests, analysis of slope failures andunderground pillar stability. Initial applications of the code to the analysis of block caving by Pine et al(2006), Vyazmensky et al (2007), Elmo et al (2007) and Rance at al (2007) showed encouraging results.According to Vyazmensky et al (2007) in the context of finite-discrete element method there are threepossible approaches to the representation of the jointed rock mass systems:
 
Equivalent Continuum
 
Discrete Network 
 
Mixed discrete/equivalent continuum approachIn the Equivalent Continuum approach, similar to analysis employing continuum techniques, the jointed intactrock mass system is represented as a continuum with assumed reduced intact rock properties to account for thepresence of discontinuities. Clearly such an approach is not entirely acceptable, as the mechanical behaviour of a jointed rock mass is strongly influenced by the presence of discontinuities which provide kinematic controland in many cases govern the operative failure mechanisms. In this sense, the Discrete Network approach is amore physically realistic option where the jointed rock mass is represented as an assembly of a maximumnumber of discontinuities and intact rock regions. It should be emphasized that such a detailed representation of discontinuities for highly jointed rock masses requires a very fine mesh discretization; hence the computationalefficiency of this approach is limited to the analysis of relatively small scale problems. For the analysis of practical engineering problems it is neither feasible nor necessary to consider every single discontinuity in the jointed rock mass; the resolution of fracture representation should however be sufficient to capture the salientfeatures of the simulated behaviour. In the Mixed approach key discontinuities defining the behaviour of the jointed rock mass are represented explicitly and presence of other discontinuities in inter-fracture regions isaccounted for implicitly through reduced intact rock properties. This approach was adopted for the current study.Geologically sound representation of key natural discontinuities can be achieved through use of DiscreteFracture Network (DFN) models. In the current study the DFN code FracMan (Golder, 2007) was utilized.FracMan is a convenient tool to generate 3D stochastical models of fracture networks based on collecteddiscontinuities data; it allows export of 2D and 3D fracture sets into ELFEN. Integrated use of ELFEN andFracMan has previously been presented by Elmo et al (2006), Pine et al (2006), Rance at al (2007), Elmo et al(2007), and Vyazmensky et al (2007).

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