Mining Publication: Detecting Strata Fracturing and Roof Failures from a Borehole Based Microseismic System
Modern, highly productive underground mining operations need to assure the safety of their workforce by understanding where major strata fractures and roof failures could occur. Mines depend on a host of tools to assess ground instability. In-mine microseismic monitoring systems with sufficient number of sensors have also been used to provide this information. These in-mine systems must be robust in design and moved regularly to keep up with the mining advancement. System performance issues depend on maintaining ever increasing cable runs, preventing component damage from mining activities (scaling, blasting, etc.) and avoiding signal degradation due to interference from mining equipment (fans, trucks, electrical equipment, etc.). A potential solution is to use a surface-based monitoring system having sensors placed in boreholes above and adjacent to the underground mine workings. These sensors must be capable of detecting and locating strata fracturing associated with rock failure events. A great advantage of a surface-based monitoring system is its independence from the underground mine infrastructure. There is less concern with cable maintenance problems, signal degradation by interference from mining activity, or loss of power from the mine's power grid. The disadvantages include the cost of drilling boreholes and challenges associated with placing sensors in the boreholes, maintaining radio communication and solar power, and public interference (vandalism, etc.). This paper describes a case study where a surface-based microseismic system, using triaxial geophones in boreholes drilled from the surface, was deployed at a large limestone mine. The system was operational during a roof fall that occurred in October 2007. It detected the first rock fracture event 17 minutes before the rock fall event. The geophone array was sensitive enough to identify all large rock fracture, impact, and blast events as well as medium-size rock fracture events occurring close to the geophone array.