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March 2016
Volume 68    Issue 3

Minimizing impacts on streams due to underground mining by predicting surface ground movements

Mining Engineering, 2016, Vol. 68, No. 3, pp. 28-28
Agioutantis, Zach; Newman, Christopher; Böde Jimenez Leon, Gabriel; Karmis, Michael


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When utilizing high recovery underground mining methods, such as longwall or high-extraction room-and-pillar mining, the movement and deformation of the overburden propagate toward the surface and may affect the integrity of overlying surface streams (Peng et al, 1996). Published studies cite three major mechanisms of subsidence as most likely to impact streams: displacement, slope and strain. While subsidence-induced vertical displacement cause little structural damage to the stream bed, it may create adverse drainage and stream flow issues as the subsidence trough allows for ponding (Dawkins, 2003). Subsidence-induced changes to the slope, or tilt, of a stream may have adverse effects on water flow. As the stream enters the subsidence trough, the gradient increases providing potential erosion control problems. When exiting the subsidence trough, a reduction of the gradient may inhibit stream flow, causing localized ponding (Peng, 2008). While vertical displacement and tilt both may have detrimental effects to surface streams, the resulting strains have been documented as being the most damaging to surface streams and structures causing distortion, fractures, or failure (Singh, 1992). When stream beds are subjected to high tensile strain, tensile cracks may form at the surface level allowing for the direct loss of stream flow through fissures. When stream beds are located in areas of high compressive strain, rock layers forming the stream bed can fail as the stream bed ruptures, upward, blocking stream flow or having the stream diverted into the fracture zone at the base (Iannacchione, et. al., 2010). 



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