Mining Publication: Effects of Far-Field Shearing Deformation on Fracturing Around an Underground Opening
Researchers at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) are investigating the causes and mechanisms of roof failure in underground mines. It is expected that a better understanding of these causes and mechanisms will lead to better layout and support designs that will help prevent accidents and fatalities associated with fall of ground. Two numerical experiments were conducted by NIOSH researchers using the Fast Lagrangian Analysis of Continua (FLAC) computer modeling program with a strain-softening continuum to simulate fracture zones. Two models, one of a round hole in a plate and one of a rectangular opening, were constructed and boundary conditions were applied to simulate far-field shear. The Particle Flow Code in Two Dimensions (PFC2D) computer program was used to look at the effects of far-field shear in generating fractures around an underground opening, but these models are preliminary until boundary conditions, strengths, and stiffnesses are matched to the FLAC models. Results showed that shear zones propagated from the opposite corners of openings in directions that appeared to be determined by opening shape and far-field stress. Tensile failures also formed and extended away from these shear zones. The consistent direction of shear deformation with respect to far-field shear provides a plausible explanation for preferred directions of shear as seen in geologic environments.