Mining Publication: The Calculated Risk of Experiencing a Lightning Caused Unplanned Detonation
This paper presents data and theorem to calculate the risk of experiencing undesirable lightning related events while blasting or while engaged in other lightning sensitive activities. The paper provides an overview of lightning hazards in blasting operations and a brief history of lightning related blasting accidents. Lightning continues to be the primary cause of premature initiations of explosives in mining; on average, over two such incidents are reported to the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) each year. The energy contained in lightning discharges and how this energy sets off explosives in mining is presented. Three categories of lightning warning methods: public media, lightning detectors, and atmospheric electrostatic field measurement are discussed. The remainder of the paper presents recently acquired data on the spatial characteristics of lightning development. This data is used to estimate the risk assumed by blasters under certain conditions. Risk estimations are made for electric and nonelectric blasting if persons are evacuated when cloud-to-ground (c-g) lightning approaches within a certain distance. For example, about 0.6% of all c-g lightning strikes have no other c-g lightning strikes within 25 miles in the previous 30 minutes. The paper shows that a typical blaster using nonelectric initiation in a high lightning density area with a 100% accurate lightning detector set to alarm at 25 miles would have a lightning caused unplanned detonation every 14,000 years.