Mining Publication: Dynamic Failure in Deep Coal: Recent Trends and a Path Forward
Mining coal in deep, gassy strata is difficult, particularly in deep mines of the west. Dynamic failure (bumps, bounces, etc.) is commonplace, particularly where strong sandstone strata are encountered in the overburden. The disaster potential posed by dynamic failure in these mines is examined and found to be significant. Recent trends in MSHA reportable bumping of deep western coal mines have been increasing. Recent clusters of bumps are explored, a number of which have ended badly. The mechanisms of these bumps and their interactions with geologic structures are explored. Significant progress in controlling these hazards depends on a full understanding of their interaction with geologic conditions. It is apparent that not all MSHA reportable bumps have the same mechanism. These reports describe bumping of pillars, rolling of ribs, outbursts of coal, heaving of floor, shaking-induced roof falls, etc. Progress depends on understanding the underlying mechanisms of these events, and then determining which are potentially active at a particular location. Designs and other protective measures can then be adapted and deployed appropriately. Explicit consideration of mechanisms also supports extrapolation beyond experience as design extends into new mine geometries, geologies, mining methods and increasing depth. Finally, the goal should not be only to design hazard out of mines, but also to provide assurance that this, in fact, has occurred. Pursuit of this goal has been taken up by a major NIOSH research project. The centerpiece of this project is development of a Dynamic Failure Control Program to monitor evolution of dynamic failure hazards with changing geologic conditions to assure that control and protective measures are appropriately deployed.