Mining Publication: Correlation of Sonic Travel Time to the Uniaxial Compressive Strength of U.S. Coal Measure Rocks
Sonic travel time logging of exploration boreholes is routinely used in Australia to obtain estimates of coal mine roof rock strength. Because sonic velocity logs are relatively inexpensive and easy to obtain during exploration, the technique has provided Australian underground coal mines with an abundance of strength data for use in all aspects of ground control design. However, the technique depends upon reliable correlations between the unconfined compressive strength (UCS) and the sonic velocity. This paper describes research recently conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) aimed at developing a correlation for use by the U.S. mining industry. At three coreholes in Illinois, Pennsylvania, and southern West Virginia, sonic velocity logs were compared with point load tests for a broad range of coal measure rock types. For the entire data set, the relationship between UCS and sonic travel time is expressed by the following equation, where UCS is in psi and t is the travel time of the P-wave in microsec/ft. UCS = 468,000 x e-0.054t. The r-squared value for this equation is 0.87, indicating that a strong correlation between sonic travel time and UCS can be achieved with this technique. The paper also addresses the steps that are necessary to ensure that high-quality sonic logs are obtained for use in estimating UCS.