Mining Publication: Failure Mechanics of Multiple Seam Mining Interactions
Multiple-seam mining interactions caused by full-extraction mining, whether due to undermining or overmining, often involve tensile failure of the affected mine roof. The adverse ground control conditions may prevent mining for both safety and economic reasons. Prior researchers have identified the geometric, geologic, and mining factors controlling multiple-seam mining interactions. This numerical study examines the mechanics of these interactions using a modeling procedure that (1) incorporates the essential constitutive behavior of the rock, such as strain-softening of the intact rock and shear and tensile failure along bedding planes, and (2) captures the geologic variability of the rock, especially the layering of weak and strong rocks and weak bedding planes. Specifically, the numerical study considered the effect of vertical stress, interburden thickness, and the immediate roof quality of the affected seam in both undermining and overmining situations. The models show that for overburden-to-interburden thickness (OB/IB) ratios of less than 5, interactions do not occur and that for OB/IB ratios of more than 50, extreme interaction is a certainty. In between, the possibility of an interaction was found to depend on gob width-to-interburden thickness ratio, site-specific geology, and horizontal stress to rock strength ratio in addition to the OB/IB ratio. The models also showed that horizontal stress was profoundly altered well above or below a full extraction area and that these changes are likely to influence the success or failure of multiple-seam mining. The role of horizontal stress in multiple-seam mining interactions has received little attention in prior investigations. Four factors control the mechanics of multiple-seam mining interactions: (1) vertical stress concentration, (2) horizontal stress concentration, (3) stress redirection, and (4) bedding plane slip bands. A combination of vertical and horizontal stress increase and high stress gradients in the vicinity of full-extraction areas reorient principal stresses into a very unfavorable direction. This seemingly small stress reorientation has a profound adverse effect on bedded rock.