Rock Slope Stability Investigations In Three Dimensions For A Part Of An Open Pit Mine In USA
Open Pit Mine
Rock Slope Stability
Field Displacement Monitoring
Mining Geological & Geophysical Engineering
AdvisorKulatilake, Pinnaduwa H.S.W.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractTraditional slope stability analysis and design methods, such as limit equilibrium method and continuum numerical methods have limitations in investigating three dimensional large scale rock slope stability problems in open pit mines associated with stress concentrations and deformations arising due to intersection of many complex major discontinuity structures and irregular topographies. Analytical methods are limited to investigating kinematics and limit equilibrium conditions based on rigid body analyses. Continuum numerical methods fail to simulate the detachment of rock blocks and large displacements and rotations. Therefore, there is an urgent need to try some new methods to have a deeper understanding of the open pit mine rock slope stability problems. The intact rock properties and discontinuity properties for both DRC and DP rock formations that exist in the selected open pit mine were determined from tests conducted on rock samples collected from the mine site. Special survey equipment (Professor Kulatilake owns) which has a total station, laser scanner and a camera was used to perform remote fracture mapping in the research area selected at the mine site. From remote fracture mapping data, the fracture orientation, spacing and density were calculated in a much refined way in this dissertation compared to what exist in the literature. Discontinuity orientation distributions obtained through remote fracture mapping agreed very well with the results of manual fracture mapping conducted by the mining company. This is an important achievement in this dissertation compared to what exist in the literature. GSI rock quality system and Hoek-Brown failure criteria were used to estimate the rock mass properties combining the fracture mapping results with laboratory test results of intact rock samples. Fault properties and the DRC-DP contact properties were estimated based on the laboratory discontinuity test results. A geological model was built in a 3DEC model including all the major faults, DRC-DP contact, and two stages of rock excavation. The built major discontinuity system of 44 faults in 3DEC with their real orientations, locations and three dimensional extensions were validated successfully using the fault geometry data provided by the mining company using seven cross sections. This was a major accomplishment in this dissertation because it was done for the first time in the world. Numerical modeling was conducted to study the effect of boundary conditions, fault system and lateral stress ratio on the stability of the considered rock slope. For the considered section of the rock slope, the displacements obtained through stress boundary conditions were seemed more realistic than that obtained through zero velocity boundary conditions (on all four lateral faces). The fault system was found to play an important role with respect to rock slope stability. Stable deformation distributions were obtained for k₀ in the range of 0.4 to 0.7. Because the studied rock mass is quite stable, it seems that an appropriate range for k₀ for this rock mass is between 0.4 and 0.7. Seven monitoring points were selected from the deformation monitoring conducted at the open pit mine site by the mining company using a robotic total station to compare with numerical predictions. The displacements occurred between July 2011 and July 2012 due to the nearby rock mass excavation that took place during the same period were compared between the field monitoring results and the predicted numerical modeling results; a good agreement was obtained. This is a huge success in this dissertation because such a comparison was done for the first time in the world. In overall, the successful simulation of the rock excavation during a certain time period indicated the possibility of using the procedure developed in this dissertation to investigate rock slope stability with respect to expected future rock excavations in mine planning.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Mining Geological & Geophysical Engineering