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Ground rippability classification by decision trees

Transactions of the Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration , 2015, Vol. 338, No. 1, pp. 492-501

Dindarloo, S.R.; Siami-Irdemoosa, E.


Ease of excavation or rippability, also called diggability or excavatibility, is a critical decision-making parameter in the selection of both the overburden removal method and the required equipment in surface mining and geotechnical engineering projects. The most widely used method of estimating rippability is rock mass classification. Although there are different classification schemes in the literature, all of them have the two major limitations of sharp transitions at class boundaries and subjective uncertainties in decision making. In this study, the decision trees method was employed as a classification tool for estimating ground rippability, using the four rock mass parameters of weathering degree, uniaxial compressive strength, joint spacing and bedding spacing. The results were compared with those of the widely used method of diggability index rating (DIR) and a fuzzy-based DIR. The problem of subjective uncertainty was resolved in the proposed decision trees method, as the tree rules were derived automatically from the training data sets. Compared with fuzzy-DIR, a decision tree classifier is simpler, needs less computational time and is more appreciable by industry practitioners. Nevertheless, the proposed method is not flawless and, similar to both the conventional and fuzzy DIR methods, yielded poor estimations in particular instances. The limitations of the three methods are discussed.