Mining Publication: Investigation of a Rock-Burst Site, Sunshine Mine, Kellogg, Idaho
Original creation date: January 1997
Rock masses in deep-level mines are subject to high stresses, which can result in unexpected failure of rock into mined-out openings. Historically, various independent methods have been used to discern the causes of rock bursts and to evaluate stress conditions in rock masses susceptible to violent failure. Personnel from two research centers of the former U.S. Bureau of Mines, Spokane and Twin Cities, investigated a rock burst that occurred in May of 1994 in a rock mass between the 4400 and the 4600 levels of the Sunshine Mine, Kellogg, ID. The team evaluated the current state of stress in the pillar and the most likely cause of the rock burst by studying the seismic history of the pillar, examining the geology, analyzing the available in situ stress data, calculating possible fault-lane solutions for the burst, and performing a seismic velocity tomographic survey. The results of the study showed that post-rock-burst seismicity was concentrated about 15 to 30 m west of and about 15 m above the rock-burst location. The pillar is composed of a very hard sericitic-to-vitreous quartzite of a type rarely found in the mine, but that is often found in other district mines having a history of seismic activity. In situ stress analysis of the pillar and the surrounding rock mass showed a probable stress rotation from northwest-southeast to east-west. Of four fault plane solutions, the most probable was either a left-lateral, strike-slip movement with a compressive principal stress oriented nearly north-south, or a right-lateral, strike-slip movement oriented east-west. Finally, tomographic images showed low-velocity areas (interpreted as areas of low stress) associated with the crosscuts and haulageways, and high-velocity areas (interpreted as areas of high stress) associated with the rock-burst location. High velocities were also found in a planar area oriented in an elongate northeast-southwest direction.