Mining Publication: Pillar Mechanics of Coal Mine Bursts: A Control Strategy
One of the most difficult and longstanding engineering problems associated with coal mining is the catastrophic failure phenomenon known as coal mine bursts (known in the United States as bumps). For more than 70 years, researchers and practitioners have attempted to determine whether this destruction observed underground is caused by stress conditions within the coal pillar or from distant seismic sources in the mine roof and floor strata. The role of confinement and the extent of failure in solid pillars and panels have also proven difficult to define. These are important issues, since control solutions need to be based on a fundamental understanding of the problem. Observations by U.S. Bureau of Mines researchers over the last decade have helped to clarify certain aspects of these issues. Microseismic sensors and geomechanic field measurements have located areas of excess energy release, identified stress conditions in coalbeds close to failure, and recorded the response of mine structures prone to bursts. In the present study, data available for a range of U.S. bursts were considered in an effort to evaluate both common and distinctive features. Although the attempt revealed little commonality, encouraging results were produced by categorizing coal bursts by source mechanisms. When a coal burst is thus categorized, differences in environmental factors-such as geology, stress fields, and mining methods-are highlighted, and viable control strategies are readily recognized.