Geologic Factors in Predicting Coal Mine Roof-rock Stability in the Upper Kittanning Coalbed, Somerset County, Pennsylvania.
Roof-rock instability in advancing sections of underground coal mines is a major contributing factor to accidents resulting in fatalities and injuries. Such roof-rock conditions can also result in loss of production due to additional cleanup time and increased amounts of reject material. The Bureau of Mines is investigating fundamental geologic factors affecting coal mine roof-rock instability in order to develop techniques to predict zones of potential unstable roof-rock. Two distinct directional trends of unstable shale roof-rock in a mine working the Upper Kittanning coalbed are delineated: one trend is associated with the sandstone- shale transition zone, the other with a fault system. The unstable shale roof-rock associated with the transition zone, a consequence of differential compaction, is comprised of slickensided roof-rock. Whereas, the unstable shale roof-rock associated with the fault system, a consequence of structural deformation of the strata, is comprised of fault planes. These faults, small in comparison to the sandstone-shale transition zone, are difficult to delineate with a standard drilling program. Trends of the transition zone associated with the sedimentary facies change are projected into unmined portions of the coalbed with the aid of exploration core data.