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24-05-2015 | Original Paper | Issue 3/2016 Open Access

Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering 3/2016

Conceptual Numerical Modeling of Large-Scale Footwall Behavior at the Kiirunavaara Mine, and Implications for Deformation Monitoring

Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering > Issue 3/2016
M. Svartsjaern, D. Saiang, E. Nordlund, A. Eitzenberger


Over the last 30 years, the Kiirunavaara mine has experienced a slow but progressive fracturing and movement in the footwall rock mass, which is directly related to the sublevel caving (SLC) method utilized by Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag (LKAB). As part of an ongoing work, this paper focuses on describing and explaining a likely evolution path of large-scale fracturing in the Kiirunavaara footwall. The trace of this fracturing was based on a series of damage mapping campaigns carried out over the last 2 years, accompanied by numerical modeling. Data collected from the damage mapping between mine levels 320 and 907 m was used to create a 3D surface representing a conceptual boundary for the extent of the damaged volume. The extent boundary surface was used as the basis for calibrating conceptual numerical models created in UDEC. The mapping data, in combination with the numerical models, indicated a plausible evolution path of the footwall fracturing that was subsequently described. Between levels 320 and 740 m, the extent of fracturing into the footwall appears to be controlled by natural pre-existing discontinuities, while below 740 m, there are indications of a curved shear or step-path failure. The step-path is hypothesized to be activated by rock mass heave into the SLC zone above the current extraction level. Above the 320 m level, the fracturing seems to intersect a subvertical structure that daylights in the old open pit slope. Identification of these probable damage mechanisms was an important step in order to determine the requirements for a monitoring system for tracking footwall damage. This paper describes the background work for the design of the system currently being installed.
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