This paper discusses the results of two recent case studies in which high-tech prototype instruments were used. The first case study describes the results of a ground-based hyperspectral imaging tool used to map the geology of an open-pit mine highwall. The second case study outlines the use of intefferometric synthetic aperture radar and how this type of radar can be used in a variety of geotechnical situations. These case studies are part of an on-going research project at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health's (NIOSH) Spokane Research Laboratory. The project objective is to implement engineering controls and design methods in order to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities associated with slope failures at mining operations. Project personnel are hopeful that these new developments in technology will lead to better geotechnical monitoring and design in slope stability and other important areas of rock mechanics.


The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Spokane Research Laboratory is involved in research to improve methods for detecting conditions in open pit mines that could lead to catastrophic slope failures. Since 1995, 33 miners have died in slope failure accidents at U.S. mines. Better methods for monitoring and design are needed to ensure the safety of mine workers. This paper highlights two emerging technologies that could potentially be adapted to improve mine safety. Applications to rock mechanics issues related to surface and underground mining, petroleum, geological, civil engineering and geohazards monitoring are also included.

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