Role of gas pressure in underground coal mine bursts and bumps
, 2013, Vol. 65, No. 8, pp. 52-60
Face and pillar bursts, bumps and bounces are violent failures that occur in underground coal mines in response to a complicated interplay of face and pillar geometry, seam depth, coal strength and moduli and interactions between roof, seam and floor strata. Additional complications arise from the presence of gas, mainly methane, and associated pressure and flow that vary with time and are further influenced by the rate of face advance. Numerical models provide a means of quantitatively accounting for the various complications of mining geometry, the stratigraphic column, mechanical properties, gas flow properties and associated interactions. A fully coupled hydromechanical finite element code, UTAH4, serves the purpose well and allows study of the important interaction between stress concentration and gas pressure in determining safety and stability of the face during the advance of a longwall panel in a deep underground coal mine in central Utah. Face advance is relatively fast compared with gas flow and depressurization in coal seams of low gas permeability. Consequently, gas pressure is high at the face. When a longwall is stationary, depressurization occurs at the face, so effective stress and strength increase. Thus, when gas flow at the face is high and requires a pause in face advance to bring gas concentration to an acceptable level, a second benefit occurs because of timely depressurization. However, quantitative analysis of a deep coal mine shows that regardless of gas pressure, high stress concentration is more likely to pose a threat to face and pillar wall stability.