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Mining Contract: Analysis of Mine Seismicity and Geotechnical Modeling for Improved Safety in Underground Coal Mines

Contract DetailValue
Contract #200-2011-39614
Start Date6/22/2011
Research Concept

The objective of this contract is to address important ground control safety issues and to develop an adequate supply of qualified ground control engineers and professors to ensure the future health and safety of our nation’s mine workers. This contract will (1) provide qualified individuals with opportunities to pursue MS and PhD degrees focused on ground control, (2) advance the science of interpreting the cause of mining-induced seismicity, and (3) investigate opportunities for improving safety in Utah’s burst-prone coal mines, which are moving to greater depths and more hostile geologic conditions.

Program Area

Contract Status & Impact

Coal accounts for 82% of electricity generated in Utah, but production is declining as supplies run low and mines are forced to operate at greater depths under more hostile geologic conditions. Coal bursts, which are a subset of mining-induced seismicity (MIS), clearly present a hazard and result from unusually deep mines, strong roof and floor rock, and topography characterized by steep escarpments and deeply incised canyons—all of these conditions are present in Utah.

Utah also has unique capabilities for monitoring seismicity related to these bursts and other sources of MIS. The University of Utah Seismograph Stations (UUSS) ( operates a regional array of seismograph stations, and the network catalog contains a continuous space-time records of MIS above magnitude 1.8 from 1978 to the present. The University of Utah’s (U of U) Mining Engineering department maintains a close collaboration with the UUSS, and this contract will greatly assist the U of U in attracting and supporting MS and PhD students who are interested in ground control and seismic monitoring research.

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