Paleostress analysis

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A structural model is an important part of the geotechnical model of a mine development. The purpose of the structural model is to illustrate the location, orientation and character of major geologic structures, as well as identify the spatial distribution of features that make up the rock mass fabric (i.e minor faults, folds, foliation). The identification of patterns or spatial trends in rock mass fabric allows the selection of structural domains. [1] Developing domains simplifies the structural evaluation of the block to be mined, by illustrating the interaction of major structures and rock fabric, which may derive a particular overall stress state within that block. [2] Comprehensive structural evaluation includes geologic structures at all scales – regional mine scale to drill core scale – with enough detail to produce a representative model that reflects the mining block’s entire geological history, formally referred to as tectonogenesis (Figure 1). Illustrating a block’s structural features and unique fault-related movement data contributes to paleostress analysis methods by identifying the controlling structural features and associated stresses.

Completing a sequenced paleostress analysis as a means to back-calculate stress through geological time is of significant value to mine sequence planning. This allows assessment of the possibility of remobilizing old structures or veins, resulting in a fault-slip burst or seismic event during mining. Paleostress analysis methods are recommended to be applied at all burst or seismic event prone mine-sites. Using the paleostress back-analysis to estimate the state of stress yields invaluable data for helping develop efficient and safe excavation sequencing during mine-planning. [2]
  1. Read, J. & Stacey, P. (2010). Guidelines for Open Pit Mine Design. Collingwood, Australia CSIRO Publishing.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Golder Associates Ltd. (2011). Structural Geology Guidelines for Aiding Characterization of Deep Mining Fault Behaviour, Second Edition. The Center for Excellence in Mining Innovation.