Predicting cave initiation and propagation

CIM Bulletin, Vol. 96, No. 1071, 2003

R. Trueman and C. Mawdesley

The most widely used method for predicting the onset of continuous caving is Laubscher’s caving chart. A detailed examination of this method was undertaken which concluded that it had limitations which may impact on results, particularly when dealing with stronger rock masses that are outside current experience. These limitations relate to inadequate guidelines for adjustment factors to rock mass rating (RMR), concerns about the position on the chart of critical case history data, undocumented changes to the method and an inadequate number of data points to be confident of stability boundaries. A review was undertaken on the application and reliability of a numerical method of assessing cavability. The review highlighted a number of issues, which at this stage, make numerical continuum methods problematic for predicting cavability. This is in particular reference to sensitivity to input parameters that are difficult to determine accurately and mesh dependency. An extended version of the Mathews method for open stope design was developed as an alternative method of predicting the onset of continuous caving. A number of caving case histories were collected and analyzed and a caving boundary delineated statistically on the Mathews stability graph. The definition of the caving boundary was aided by the existence of a large and wide-ranging stability database from non-caving mines. A caving rate model was extrapolated from the extended Mathews stability graph but could only be partially validated due to a lack of reliable data.
Keywords: Cave initiation, Propagation, Laubscher caving chart, Numerical modelling, Mathews stability graph, Stability, Cavability.