In block caving projects, the rock mass fragmentation process plays a controlling role in the design and success of the operation. Poorly understood, however, is the secondary fragmentation that occurs as blocks of caved ore move through the draw column and interact with one another. The initial size of these blocks can be considerable, as can their strength and stiffness as the presence of non-persistent joints and veining will be variable. Intuitively, more planes of weakness within the blocks should facilitate early fragmentation, but this assumption could depend on additional factors such as contact type between adjacent blocks and loads imposed through varying heights of the draw column. This paper reports the findings from a laboratory investigation examining the role of block strength and planes of weakness on secondary fragmentation. Testing was carried out on small-scale concrete cubes of uniform size, with and without embedded planes of weakness. The results obtained demonstrate the significance of veining and other planes of weakness on secondary fragmentation under one-dimensional compression, and allow for the development and constraint of empirical guidelines.
The fragmentation process during block caving involves the initial (primary) fragmentation of rock in the cave back through stress-induced fracturing, release and fall of individual blocks onto the broken ore muck pile. This is followed by secondary fragmentation involving splitting and rounding of blocks as they move downwards through the draw column towards the draw point. The degree of secondary fragmentation achieved involves many variables related to the mechanical properties of the rock blocks as well as different operational factors. With respect to the block properties, the presence of planes of weakness in the form of veining and non-persistent joints is a topic of special interest given the significant influence it potentially has on the overall fragmentation process. However, the inherent heterogeneity and variable size of individual blocks generated from the cave back makes it difficult to develop any empirical relationships relating secondary fragmentation to compressive loading based on insitu observations and mine data. More preferable would be to keep constant block parameters, such as shape (aspect ratio and angularity) and size, through controlled laboratory testing. This work presents an efficient technique to fabricate concrete cubes in order to keep constant different block properties. These are then tested under one-dimensional compressive loading. The objective of these tests is to emulate a tight packing condition of single blocks such as that which would occur when the air gap between the cave back and broken ore in the draw column is small. When the air gap is small, detached blocks are unable to fall and rotate but instead maintain a very tidy arrangement with minimal voids left between adjacent blocks.
We present an integrated analysis of laboratory-based thermally induced fracturing and results of numerical models to give insight to the role of thermal shock fracture on geothermal reservoir rocks. Thermal stimulation is a reservoir permeability enhancement technique applied to commercial geothermal reservoir rocks to enhance fluid injection capabilities for spent power plant working fluids. The process is well known to enhance permeability but the thermodynamic and physical constraints of the process are less certain. In an attempt to constrain the interaction and the ideal conditions that lead to permeability enhancement, experimental procedures were carried out to mimic the conditions that a reservoir rock would experience during a thermal stimulation using temperature differentials ranging from 50-300°C. Samples underwent such thermal gradients under controlled laboratory conditions and were characterized for the changes to permeability, porosity, ultrasonic velocities, dynamic elastic moduli and petrological changes. The thermal stimulation was simulated in a FLAC2D thermal numerical model to investigate the nature of the thermally induced changes in the sample. The development of this model also allows us to investigate the relationship between geological characteristics and the ability to thermally stimulate any type of rock. The results indicate that numerical thermal shocking experiments are corroborated by laboratory-based results. The implication of this study is that the refined numerical models present an insight to the conditions and constraints under which thermal stimulation can prove to enhance permeability that could not be gained through purely laboratory-based studies.
Thermal cracking of rocks is a process that can enhance permeability, reduce strength and have a significant effect on the competency of rocks in engineering applications. Thermal cracking as a result of induced temperature gradients in rock needs to be a consideration when rocks have undergone thermal stress in environments such as nuclear waste repositories, stone structures subjected to fires and geothermal reservoir rocks. Unlike the latter examples where thermal gradients can compromise structural integrity, geothermal reservoirs can benefit from thermal cracking as a permeability enhancement technique. The application of thermal stimulation to geothermal reservoirs has been shown to help improve the output and injection capacity of many geothermal wells worldwide (e.g. Axelsson and Thórhallsson, 2009; Grant et al., 2013) The process generally involves injection of water into wellbores that is cooler than the geothermal reservoir and through a combination of contraction and thermal cracking, permeability is enhanced. However, the processes that constrain successful stimulation are less well constrained and require both laboratory and numerical simulation to attempt to understand the underlying mechanisms.
Tshepong Mine, Harmony’s largest gold producing mine, is situated in the Free State portion of the Witwatersrand Basin, east of Odendaalsrus and north of Welkom, South Africa. The Basal reef is a narrow tabular conglomerate and is the main gold bearing ore body. The strata strikes mainly in a northsouth direction with an average dip of 22 degrees. Currently mining takes place at depths of between 1 690m and 2 150m below surface. The Basal reef unit consists of a conglomerate ranging between a few and 30cm in thickness. Some 80-90% of the gold occurs in the lower portion of the conglomerate. Directly above the conglomerate is a quartzite placer unit, the Basal quartzite, which is a clean, hard competent rock and varies in thickness between 50cm and 200cm. The Basal unit is overlain by the Khaki shale which can vary between 30cm and 500cm in width. It is weak and incompetent khaki coloured chloritic shale.
A method of stoping, termed “undercut”, is practiced in order to remove the lower 15-20cm of the gold rich strata. The method entails removing this portion along with some 70-80cm of footwall host rock which is a strong competent quartzite. The hard competent quartzite overlying the conglomerate is left in-situ to form a competent hangingwall which can stabilize and prevent exposure of the weak Khakishale. This method of extraction was developed through trial and error and has been used reasonably successfully since its inception in the early 1960’s where the method was developed to extract the Basal reef at the Western Holdings Mines. Recently prospect drilling and a number of localised hangingwall failures indicated that the residual quartzite beam could be less than 60cm and in some instances as thin as 30cm in certain areas of the mine. The result of this is a less stable hangingwall which not only poses a safety risk to workers in these areas but also had the potential of locking up some 840 000 Tonnes of gold bearing ore. At the present gold price this amounts to revenue of approximately ZAR1.5 billion (U.S. $143 million).
This paper discusses the method of “undercut stoping” and existing practices in place at Tshepong Mine. It also explores new initiatives such as the use of a simple freely-supported elastic beam solution to perform back analysis, on-site data capturing of beam thickness and support geometries in order to develop empirical design charts and numerical modelling to assist in the verification of the empirical design method.
Sorption process plays a significant role for solute retardation in rock fractures. In this paper, for the aim to investigate the effect of sorption on solute transport in a single rough fracture, a 2D model of representative single rock fracture was built and its roughness was statistically characterized based on the measured data of rock surface topography by laser scanning. A Finite Volume Method (FVM) code was developed to solve the Navier-Stokes (NS) equations and transport equation for numerical modelling the process of fluid flow and solute transport in the rock fracture model. Two groups of simulations were conducted: with and without the consideration of the sorption process with different average flow velocities. The results show that the surface roughness increased the complexities of flow fields, and the non-linear sorption process plays a significant role in the retardation of solute transport through rock fractures. The sorption process caused an obvious lagging time in both the solute concentration fields (plumes) and corresponding breakthrough curves. This lagging time increases with the distance from the inlet boundary, and relatively decreases with the increase of mean velocities.
Fluid flow and solute transport in fractured rocks is an important research topic for performance and risk assessments for rock engineering projects concerning geo-environment safety, such as radioactive waste disposal, mining, geothermal extraction, reservoir engineering and other contaminant transport processes in geosphere (Berkowitz 2002).
The solute transport in the rock fractures mainly involve the advection, surface sorption, matrix diffusion, dispersion, radioactive decay and chemical reactions, governed by general transport equations (e.g. Bodin et al., 2003). Among these transport phenomena, the sorption on the fracture walls can alter solute migration between the fractures, and play an important role in natural retention of solute transport (Weber et al., 1991; Wels et al., 1998; Kumar 2007; Dai et al., 2012). The aim of this study is to investigate the effect of sorption on the solute transport in a single rock fracture with rough surfaces. More complex transport processes, such as matrix diffusion, dispersions, radioactive decay and chemical reactions, are not included in this study.
For modeling fluid flow in a single fracture, the fluid flow was traditionally assumed to be laminar between a pair of smooth parallel plates, in order to get an analytical solution of the fluid flow velocity field, named Cubic Law (e.g. Witherspoon et al., 1980). In this way, transport equations can be solved analytically in one dimension (e.g. Tang et al., 1981). However, in reality, the rock fractures usually consist of walls with different orders or scales of roughness (ISRM, 1978; Zou et al., 2014), which have critical effects on the fluid flow and solute transport behaviors inside the fractures, such as on the sorption process on the fracture walls (e.g. Thompson 1991; Yeo 2001; Cardenas et al., 2007). In addition, the flow through rock fractures is not generally laminar, for example, in mountain areas with high water head, field pump tests and some laboratory tests, fluid flow can have large values of Reynolds numbers. Hence, this assumption may over-simplify the transport process both in geometry and physics in realistic situations. Therefore, for enhancing our understanding of the process of fluid flow and the mechanisms of solute transport through natural rock fractures, it is necessary to solve the complete Navier-Stokes (NS) equations of fluid flow and solute transport equation directly in natural rock fractures with the complex geometry of rough surfaces.
Hou, Bing (China University of Petroleum) | Yuan, Liang (China University of Petroleum) | Chen, Mian (China University of Petroleum) | Zhang, Rixing (Texas A&M University) | Wang, Yonghui (Oil & Gas Technology Research Institude Of Changqing Oilfield Company) | Yang, Lifeng (Langfang Branch of Research Institute of Petroleum Exploration and Development)
Large-scale hydraulic fracturing technique has been widely applied to the development of shale gas reservoirs, where the interaction between natural fractures and critical fracture zones has substantial impact on the propagation of hydraulic fractures. Therefore, it is of significant importance to understand and experimentally verify such mechanism. To reach this end, tri-axial fracturing tests were implemented on 400mm×400mm×400mm block samples collected from Longmaxi shale outcrops. The interplay between hydraulic and natural fractures was investigated during the tests, factoring in the role of pump rate in affecting the created fracture network. Based on the experimental results, the critical fracture zone, defined as the weak formation zone nearby the wellbore created by staged pressure implementation that is observed rapid fracture propagation upon next stage of pressure increase, was thoroughly investigated. The analysis illustrates that given the high brittleness of the shale formation, abundant critical fracture zones are generated around natural fractures with pressure building up at a relatively low pump rate. As the pump rate increases, hydraulic fractures initiate and come into play with critical fracture zones, implying emergence of a large number of micro-cracks. A changing pump rate modifies the way of interaction between hydraulic and natural fractures and the subsequent formation of fracture network. Long term fracturing fluid injection with relatively low pump rate below the activation of critical zones is suggested. Also proposed is appropriate timing when applying a specific pump rate that will contribute to the improvement of hydraulic fracture propagation.
Shale gas reservoirs possess low porosities and low permeabilities. During the development of this type of unconventional oil and & gas resources, large-scale hydraulic fracturing technology is needed to obtain the commercial gas flow. A large number of experiments and theoretical studies (Norman & Jessen, 1963; Daneshy, 1974; Blanton, 1982; Warpinski & Teufel, 1987; Renshaw & Pollard, 1995; Zhou & Xue, 2011; Zhou et al., 2008; Taleghani & Olson, 2009; Taleghani, 2011; Gu & Weng, 2010; Cheng et al., 2014) indicate that discontinuous structural surfaces developed in reservoirs, including faults, textures, and natural fractures, have a significant effect on the hydraulic fracture extension path. When hydraulic fractures encounter natural fractures, the extensional pattern of the hydraulic fractures commonly stop extending and extend along the natural fractures or penetrate the natural fractures. Therefore, the mechanical criteria for these extension patterns were proposed (Renshaw & Pollard, 1995; Cheng et al., 2014; Gu & Weng, 2010). When hydraulic fractures extend along both ends of the natural fractures, natural fractures are easily activated, and the complexity of natural fractures improves significantly; thus, the hydraulic natural fracture network is likely to form (Taleghani, 2011; Gu & Weng, 2010; Zhao et al., 2012; Chen, 2013). If hydraulic fractures directly penetrate the natural fractures, then the activation of natural fractures will be difficult. During field treatments, pumping rate is one of the main controllable factors for fracturing engineers. When treating at high pumping rate, the bifurcation and extension of hydraulic fractures in shale formations are highly possible under the conditions that stress deflects or the stratigraphic microstructure changes. The bifurcated and extended fractures may further extend and bifurcate again because of pumping rate, characteristics of natural fractures, and other factors (Cheng et al., 2014; Zhao et al., 2012). The fracture’s bifurcation behaviors are related to its physical and mechanical properties and loading environment. Fractures can bifurcate and extend to form a fracture network through changing surface properties and controlling loading conditions (Taleghani, 2011; Chen, 2013). Mechanical property changes are the focus of fracture bifurcating mechanism research and many researchers have conducted relevant studies. Buehler (2003) indicated that previous fracture extension analyses are based on linear elastic stress and strain theory, which often neglects the nonlinear relationship between fracture tips that, Buehler calls Hyper Elasticity (Freund, 1990; Yoffe, 1951). However, Buehler did not do further analyze the disturbances on bifurcates by internal defect of fractures and natural fractures. Considering the limitation of pump capacity and fracturing fluid volume in field treatments, a low pumping rate is often used to build up pressure to break rocks, and a high pumping rate is employed for injecting fracturing fluid. Whether this pumping rate changing method contributes to the formation of hydraulic fracture network is related to fracture mechanism. Therefore, this study carried out a true triaxial hydraulic fracturing test on Longmaxi shale outcrops in the laboratory with test parameters based on similar criteria (Liu et al., 2000) and simulated the field hydraulic fracturing procedure with varied pumping rates. The hydraulic fracture mechanism and the interaction of natural fractures with hydraulic fractures were investigated. The pumping rate was optimized to maximize the extension scale of the multistage hydraulic fracturing.
Hydraulic fracturing (HF) is a mulit-scale and multi-physics process which makes numerical modelling challenging. Conventional numerical models focus on multi-physics nature of HF but the multiscale nature is compromised by idealization of reservoir to be continuous, homogeneous and isotropic. However, natural fractures take a significant role in the success of HF for exploration of unconventional resources like Shale gas. Advancement in microseismic monitoring provides useful data for simulation in a much greater details. There is an urgent need to develop a suitable numerical tool for multi-scale threedimensional simulation to better understand the roles of discontinuities and heterogeneity in reservoir and its interaction with HF, especially to address the environmental concerns such as induced seismicity. In this paper, a simple discontinuum numerical method – Lattice Element Method (LEM) is proposed to model HF in a large scale three-dimensional model. A reservoir is modelled as a lattice network composed of 1D Hookean’s spring. Fracturing is modelled simply by removing lattices that meet a specified threshold as determined by the critical energy release rate of the rock. By introducing disorder in the model, mesh dependency in modelling fracture growth is minimized. Fluid flow is simplified as flow in pipe network and the permeability of pipe is related to fracture aperture by cubic flow law. Therefore, fracture flow and rock deformation are fully coupled. In this paper, four simulations of the same configuration except with different degrees of reservoir heterogeneity are presented. Fractures formed are diffusive and two groups of fracture are identified – connected fractures and isolated fracture without clear spatial correlation. The former forms a ‘fracture cloud’ and contributes to fluid flow and modeled by pipe network. The flow of fluid is highly tortuous and pipe network is sparely connected. The degree of reservoir heterogeneity controls the growth of ‘fracture cloud’ and pipe network. Microseismic monitoring often shows diffusive fracturing during HF on site and hence the outcome of the proposed model can be compared to such monitoring results.
High pressure (up to 50 MPa) isotropic compression tests were performed on marble, gneiss and sandstone specimens, of which represents the typical rocks, to investigate isotropic compression deformation characterization at room temperature. Experimental data with respect to volume change in loading and unloading are presented. An apparent volume change inflection point (sensitive stress) was observed at a lower pressure range for porous sandstone, indicating that the elastic-plastic behaviour arising in the isotropic compression stage, but for tight crystalline rock, the sensitive stress is much higher, not probed prior to 50 MPa. The irrecoverable volumetric strain in the unloading can be seen for sandstone as well. The anisotropic deformation was discussed in terms of the axial and radial strain measurement. It was found that essential features of mechanical anisotropy are the irreversible in deformation range. The deformation feature in the isotropic compression tests is a very complex issue due to the factors concerning the stress history, unloading in sampling and in-situ stress.
The isotropic or hydrostatic compression condition that stress is compressive and has the same magnitude for all direction, which is expressed as σ1=σ2=σ3 in principal stress space. A yield locus of soils subjected to the isotropic and anisotropic compression was widely known, for instance Cam Clay model, which forms a closure cap model. However, the similar isotropic compression yield curves for rocks, especially for hard rock, was not established due to the geo-stress in the rock mass is much less than the socalled isotropic yield stress. And hence, the previous experimental studies on the hard rock have been made tend to on the stress-strain-strength relationship (Handin & Hager, 1957; Edmond & Paterson, 1972; Menéndez et al., 1996). Perhaps the yield curves related to an increasing in the hydrostatic pressure is not forced to construct for hard rocks, undoubtedly, the deformation data in this processing is valuable to assess the bulk module (Fabre & Gustkiewicz, 1997), anisotropy (Niandou et al., 1997), field stress (Hakala et al., 2007). Furthermore, many rocks store much elastic volume strain energy link to the hydrostatic pressure exerted, following a deviator stress applying, to drive the unstable brittle fracture for hard rock. Latter was studied to interpret the incentive of rock burst. However, volume change characteristic in the isotropic compression behaviour have been scarcely studied experimentally to our knowledge, less application related to the fracture in hard rock as well. The mechanical behaviour in the isotropic compression of hard rock is notably affected by the original structure anisotropy, stress history and stress condition before sampling, all of which need reasonably assess. It is also a useful understanding to study isotropic compression that elastic and plastic volume change in the isotropic loading and unloading, and the micro crack evolution throughout it.
The last three decades have seen significant mining development in northern regions of Canada, where the freeze and thaw cycle of permafrost and the corresponding surface subsidence and heave represent a significant challenge to the design and maintenance of infrastructures. Identifying areas at risk is of great assistance to reduce the impact of this issue. Over the past ten years, Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (InSAR) has been widely used to monitor ground surface deformation. With this technique, changes in phase between two SAR acquisitions are used to detect centimeter to millimeter surface displacements over a large area and with high spatial resolution. InSAR can be used as a tool to assist the siting and design of new infrastructure as well as highlighting the risk to existing structures in areas of unstable terrain. This paper presents the results of a project carried out by Effigis, which made use of SAR interferometry in the context of monitoring terrain and infrastructure stability in a northern mining environment that is affected by permafrost seasonal and long term changes. TerraSAR-X images acquired during two periods, August to November 2012 and March to October 2013, were used to measure the deformations and/or movement of ground surface, infrastructure and stockpiles caused by seasonal changes in permafrost extent in and around a mining site located in Nunavik, Quebec. The results showed that spatial and temporal distributions of surface displacements are in accordance with scientific and terrain knowledge. Some displacements were observed in loose soil areas while, as expected, none were detected in bedrock and rock outcrop areas. The areas most affected by active layer changes showed surface subsidence in the thaw settlement period. This study confirms that SAR interferometry has a great potential for operational applications related to risks induced by surface deformation in mining environments. It shows that this technique can be used to produce reliable maps of surface movement and monitor the vertical displacement of important infrastructure.
In order to research temperature field for construction of connecting passage in Metro using artificial freezing method, the finite difference software FLAC3D is employed to numerically simulate construction process of connecting passage. During construction, the overall distribution of temperature field around connecting passage, the relationship between soil temperature and freezing time, the distribution and variation for the thickness of freezing wall are studied from the perspective of numerical analysis. The results show as follows: after 55 days’ freezing, the soil temperature surrounding connecting passage is about -24 °C ~ -28 °C, and the minimum thickness of freezing wall is about 4.0m, which is larger than the design value 3.1m. So construction conditions have satisfied to the excavation of connecting passage and pumping station. During the excavation of connecting passage, soil temperature has almost no obvious change and the thickness of freezing wall remains constant mainly. After 45 days’ normal thawing, the temperature of freezing wall rises 12 °C approximately. And the soil temperature rises faster at the beginning of the normal thawing stage. In the whole process of construction, the frozen area is about 5m outside the edge of connecting passage, and the cooling area is about 10m outside the edge of connecting passage.
The first recorded application of the artificial freezing method is on a mineshaft project in 1862, and it has been widely used in foundation pit engineering, subway tunnels, mine shaft engineering and so on (Wang Zhiliang, 2010; Zhang Juanxia, 2012; Qiu Fan, 2007; Zhou Xiaomin, 1999). This method has many advantages of enhancing soil strength; decreasing permeability and adopting various unstable soils (silt clay, sand, gravel, etc.). It has been applied successfully in metro engineering construction in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing. According to incomplete statistics, the construction of connecting passage using artificial freezing method accounted for 98% in Shanghai metro (Qiu Fan, 2007).
Shitrit, O. (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) | Rosenberg, Y. O. (Israel Energy Initiatives) | Hatzor, Y. H. (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) | Reznik, I. (Israel Energy Initiatives) | Nguyen, S. (Israel Energy Initiatives) | Feinstein, S. (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev) | Vinegar, H. J. (Ben-Gurion University of the Negev)
We report the effects of porosity and total organic carbon (TOC) content on the mechanical behavior of organic-rich chalks, based on laboratory measurements. The organic-rich chalks are from the Senonian Ghareb and Mishash formations. This deposit is an immature oil-prone source rock, about 300 meters thick, situated at shallow depths (several hundreds of meters) in the Shefela basin in central Israel. The study is based on core data collected from the Zoharim borehole.
Three main phases comprise the bulk volume of this rock: 1) carbonate mineralogical phase (predominantly calcite); 2) pores (mostly saturated with brine); and 3) solid organic phase (type IIS kerogen). The mechanical effects of porosity (23-45%) and TOC (4-19%) are evaluated based on bulk incompressibilities vs. volumetric fractions analysis. Volumetric fractions of mineralogical and organic phases were obtained by porosity, density and TOC measurements. Saturated rock bulk moduli were measured through ultrasonic velocity measurements. Saturated rock bulk moduli correlate best with the sum of kerogen and pore volume fractions, rather than each of them separately. The volumetric fractions were also used to define the range of bulk modulus of the organic-rich chalk, using the Hashin-Shtrikman upper and lower bounds. Based on Marion's Bounding Average Method (BAM), the normalized stiffness factor of the chalk averaged at w=0.197, indicating a soft pore geometry. Using the average normalized stiffness factor, the BAM predictions showed excellent match with the saturated rock bulk modulus and the sum of kerogen and pore volume fractions. Based on our findings, it is inferred that kerogen grains do not support the solid skeleton but are distributed between the minerals grains. We also propose here a straightforward approach for calculating the Hashin-Shtrikman bounds, based on TOC and porosity measurements. The mechanical effects of porosity and TOC indicated here are very important for the understanding of the influence of immature kerogen presence in highly porous chalks, as the Ghareb and Mishash formations.