Date Published: March 7, 2018
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Author(s): Jing-Hu Yang, Xiang Yu, Yi Yang, Zeng-Qiang Yang, Peitao Wang.
Underground coal mining activities are prone to cause movement and breakage in geological strata and also lead to mining subsidence and even ground fissures. Along the direction working panel advancing, ground fissures may occur in roof in front and/or behind working panel. However, the investigations of previous similarity tests in lab only emphasize on the region behind working panel. By improving strata material property in construction and mounting artificial pressure devices, two physical simulation tests were conducted and successfully investigated the simulated results. Then, the mechanical model of “cantilever beam and elastic foundation beam” was proposed to calculate the stress distribution and the crack initiation angle in overlying strata and it well explains the mechanisms of ground fissures generation and propagation. Results show that, the maximum internal force in roof always occurred in front of working panel. However, because the void space in gob due to excavation is large enough to cause the bend and rotation of roof strata, compare to the triaxially compressed region in front of working panel, the roof always broke off at some positions above gob since the stress concentration resulting from such bend and rotation of strata could easily reach the limit strength of strata rocks. Also, the length of cantilever beam changed dynamically as respect to the panel advancing and the breakage intervals. Thus, the breakage position where the internal force first reached the limit tensile strength is not fixed and there will be two different kinds of relative positions between the crack initiation point and the working panel. The crack initiation direction is always perpendicular to the internal force, and the crack propagation direction is affected by the initiation angle, overburden-separation degree and the position of the hydraulic shields. If there is no overburden-separation or less, the roofs will break off as a composite beam and the propagation direction will be roughly along the central line between the initial broken point and the support position. Otherwise, the roof strata will bend with the support shields moving forward, then the fracture angle will be close to the initiation angle and the fault surface will be stepped.
Underground coal mining activities are prone to cause movement and breakage in geological strata and also lead to mining subsidence and even ground fissures [1–6] (Fig 1). Too much subsidence or ground fissures could cause loss of water resources and destruction of surface vegetation and buildings. And these damages are more serious in longwall mining of shallow coal seam [7–9].