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ENERGY RELEASED IN ROCKBURSTS

By D. F. CoaTzs•

*Carleton University, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.


Althoughmining engineershave donemuchto reducethe occurrence
of rockbursts,analysisand predictionis still highly speculative.One facet
of the phenomena that has receivedlittle attentionis the mechanisms for
storing and releasingthe manifestenergy. As for any engineeringprob-
lem it may be examinedtheoretically,empirically,or by somecombination
of both methods.The followingis in the natureof an introductionto this
subject.
Initially, usinga theoreticalanalysis,the caseis examinedof a vertical
circularshaftwith the surroundingrock subjectto- a verticalstressdue
to gravity--a horizontal stressdue to the Poissoneffect on the vertical
stress--and the concentration of the horizontal stress around the circular
opening. In symbols' S:--yh, S•--yh , St--S,.(lq-a 2 S,.--S•

(l- a2); whereS:- verticalstressdue to gravity, y---density of the

ground, h--depth below the surface, Sx- horizontal stress,m- Pois-


son'sNumber, S• -- tangentialstressaround the circular opening,a:
radial distancefrom the centerof the circleto a point in the ground,r --
radius of the circle,Sr: radial stressaroundthe circle.
The unit strainenergystoredin the rock considering it an elasticmass
until ruptureoccurscanbe calculated:
1 2
Vo'- 2E (S•2
q-S22q-
Sa2-- m (S•S2
q-S2S3
q-SaSh)
) where
Vo
= unit strain energy; S•, S2, S3--- principal stresses.
The maximum Vo
be at the surfaceof the opening.Burstsare knownto occurat a depthof
2,000 feet. Hencethe followingfiguresare consideredreasonable(if we
ignorestrength/stress
relations)for an initial calculation:
h -- 2,000ft, y -- 115 pcf,E -- 12 x l0 s psf (8x10øpsi), m -- 5, a -- r
S --S• -- 165x 2,000 : 315,000psf
315000
S,.= 5-- 1 -- 78,800
5t -- S_.-- 78,800 x 2 -•- 157,600
S,.- S:.. = 0

ß•',, max. --=-43 ft-lb./cf.


The average Vo for any massof rock would be lessthan this maximum
value.

Followingthisinitial calculation
theassumption regardingthehorizon-
tal stresscanbechanged. A hydrostatictyperelationcanbepostulated,
i.e.,
S.•.- S:. Hence lZomax. -- 173 ft-lb/cf.
204 QU4RTERLY
OF THE COLORADO
SCHOOLOF MINES

The third casethat can be consideredis that of a rock adjacentto an


opening (S3• 0) being failed by a horizontalorogenicstress(S•) with
the vertical stress(S2) merely acting to confine the rock. In this case
(which accordingto Mohr's theoryis equivalentto an unconfinedcompres-
sion laboratorytest,i.e., the major principalstressat failure (St.) is not a
function of S2• we assumea hard rock (simply to obtain a maximum
energyfigure): St -- 5,760,000psf (40,000 psi), S• -- 315,000psf, E --
12 x 108 psf, m -- 5. At the surfaceof the openingS• -- 0. HenceVo--
13,500ft-lb/cf. Althoughthe unconfined compression strengthfigure (Sf)
is not unusualfor hard rock samplestestedin the laboratory,it is probable
that a mass of such rock in the field would fail at a lower stress--hence
releasinglessenergy.
A more generalapproachwould be basedon laboratorytests(St and
E). Assumingthat thesevaluesare applicableto field conditionsa wide
range of valuesof strain energiesreleasedat failure can be obtained.We
may usethe abovehard rock as one extreme,e.g., St -- 5,760,000psf and
E -- 2 x l0 s psf, and a softrock asthe other,e.g.,St -- 570,000psf (5,000
psi) and E -- 5 x l0 s psf (3.5 x 106psi). The rangeof energycontentsat
failure (Sf2/2E) is then13,800ft-lb?cfto 324 ft-lb/cf.
A numberof years ago it was stated (Jones,1927) that the greatest
amountof strain energythat couldprobablybe storedin a cubicfoot of
rock was of the order of 2 ft-tonsor 4,000 ft-lbs. It is thoughtthat some
suchcalculationasin the previousparagraphwasusedto obtainthisfigure.
It has seemeda reasonablenumberto the mining engineerwho thought
about it, as it fit into the qualitativecomparisons that were possiblebe-
tweenenergycontentsand blasteffectsof dynamitingand the total energy
supposedly releasedby a burst and its effects. For this reasonit has some
-- albeit not very scientific-- empiricalsubstantiation.
Thus if assumptions are madethat, in the face of our ignorance,repre-
sent the extremesof the probablesituationa very wide range of strain
energyfigurescan be obtained.If this rangecouldbe reducedthenpredic-
tion of burstingconditionswouldbecomepossible.Empirical data see:n
to be requiredto achievethissituation.
In an attemptto obtainan empiricalmeasureof the energyreleasedby
an actualburst, a large rockburstin northernOntario hasbeenconsidered.
The burst causedseriousda•nageto openingsin the pillar from the 1,400-
to the 2,800-foot level. The excavatedground betweenthese horizons
extendedfor about 1,000 feet west and 900 feet east of the shaft pillar,
whichwas about150 feet on strike. If it is assumed that an averagewidth
of about 100 feet of rock wasinvolvedin the burst,the volumeof the rock
failing and releasingstrainenergywouldbe thus280 mcf. (10 racy.).
That part of the energyof the burst which causedseismicdisturbances
has been estimated (Willmore, 1957'). Based on the recordsobtained on
seismographs at Ottawa,ShawiniganFalls, Williams Collegeand Harvard
University, a figure of 5 x 1.0• ergs or 18 m ft-T was calculated. (10ss
ergshasbeenmentionedas the orderof magnituderepresenting the larger
SOIL MECHANICS AND ROCK FAILiRE 205

burstsstudiedover the yearsat the Lake ShoreMines and on the Witer-


watersrandin Leet, 195l). If this figure is divided by the volumeof
rock,the averageenergyreleasedinto the surrounding groundwouldbe
130 ft-lb/cf.
This calculationis more of interestas a trial run rather than having
any significancein itself. The seismicenergyfigure due to the stateof
the art could,with little argument,be multipliedor dividedby 10. Simi-
larly, althoughthe volumeof fracturedrock is probablyof the correct
order of magnitude,it couldbe easilychangedby a factorof 2.
There are other factorswhichmakesucha simplecalculationsuspect.
The unfracturedsurroundingrock may have releasedsomeenergywith
the reshapingof the opening.Also, the amountof energyusedup in ways
otherthan creatingseismicwaveshasnot beenincludedin the calculation.
Furthermore,it is probablethat a significantproportionof the total strain
energy would have been u•d up in crushingand heatingthe fractured
rock.

The conclusionof this introductionis that more atte•nptsare needed


to determinethe actualamountof energyreleasedby a specificburst. If,
for example,the figure of 2 ft-T/cf could be establishedas unnecessarily
high then gravitypluselasticstressmechanisms mightexplainthe phenom-
ena. If, on the other hand, the order of magnitudeof this figure is sub-
stantiated,then othermechanisms (suchas the presenceof orogenicstress)
mustbe present.
Other sourcesof energy,whichshouldeventuallybe examined,might
exist. For example,previouscompression of existinggroundby formerly
superimposed strata (possiblythousands of feet thick) might havelocked
into the rock high strain energies.Also, changesin rock crystalsmight
changesomemolecularenergyinto strainenergy,e.g., isomorphicsubsti-
tutionof ionspromotingexpansion.Similarto thislatterpossibility,it has
been suggested that the changein equilibriumwith temperatureof the
constituentsof a rock might lead to earthquakes,e.g., the direction
(a >b) might be reversedat a lower temperature to (a<-----b)
which,on a largescalewith b beingdenserthan a, couldresultin very
largeforcesandenergycontents(Goranson, 1940).
In conclusionacknowledgment is madeto ProfessorR. G. K. Morrison,
McGill University,for manyideason thissubject.

REFERENCES
Goranson, R., 1940, Fracture and flow in stressedsolids: Am. Geoph. Union Trans.,
Part II, p. 698.
Jones, J., 1927, Discussionof Crowle, P., Notes on ground movementsand methods
of support in deep mining: Kolar Gold Field Mining Metall. Bull., v. IV, no. 22,
p. 69.
Leer, D., 1951, Vibration studies--blasting and rockbursts: Canadian Inst. Mining
Metall. Trans., v. 54.
Willmore, P., 1957,Letter to R. G. K. Morrison,McGill Univ., March 25.