Large roof outbursts began occurring in November 1986 at domtar's Sifto Salt Mine in Goderich, Ontario, Canada, working the bedded salina a-2 salt unit. The outbursts, measuring about 13 to 20 m in diameter, released high concentrations of methane from cavities that extended into carbonate roof units. Spontaneous ignitions of methane gas during an outburst seriously burned a mine technician. The Canadian Ministry of Labour contacted the U.S. Bureau of Mines for technical assistance to aid in mine management's efforts in alleviating the problem. Initial gas content determinations of salt samples from the outbursts by acoustic test methodology revealed no methane enrichment. In-mine core drilling and subsequent methane content testing indicates the main source of methane in overlying roof units. Drilling the roof units demonstrated the potential of draining methane from areas showing signs of impending outbursting and alleviating the danger. Three mechanisms are considered the most likely means by which methane was introduced to the mine environment. These are (1) hydrocarbon gases released from brines, (2) gas transport along horizontal bedding planes or gas accumulations in bedding separations, and (3) mining-induced fracturing. The abundance of higher hydrocarbons in gas yielded by nonevaporate rock samples from the Goderich mine may be indicative of a former association with liquid petroleum.
Ch. 60 in Proc. of 4th Us Mine Ventilation Symp.; Soc. Min., Metall., & Explor., PP. 491-499