A quick, simple and quantitative method for the estimation of surface subsidence susceptibility in mined areas with a lack of detailed geological and geometrical information in underground is presented in this paper. In the method only gangway depth from the surface and the attitude (dip and dip direction) of main geological features are used as input data based on the degree of availability and reliability. Underground gangways are represented as a series of points instead of closed polygons for easy calculation. The core assumption in this method is that the susceptibility to subsidence within a unit area increases both as the depth of the gangway from the surface decreases and as the number of gangways below the unit area increases. In spite of the simplicity of the proposed method, it gave satisfactory results when applied to a virtual excavation model and a closed coal mine where subsidence occurred actually.
Several methods for predicting ground subsidence due to mining excavation such as the profile method and the influence function method have been proposed (Whittaker and Reddish, 1989; Sheory, 2000). The National Coal Board (1975) has presented a basic technique to determine the surface area affected by coal mining based on the height and width of mined areas and the angle of inclination of coal seams. All these methods were developed and verified for conditions involving horizontal coal seams and long wall mining, which are the common mining conditions in Europe. However, coal-associated geological structures in Korea are very complicated, and coal seams have various widths and irregular dip angles. Consequently, the slant chute block caving method has been widely used in Korea, and sinkhole type subsidence is more common than trough type. As a result, the conventional prediction methods must be adapted to the Korean geology and mining conditions, or new subsidence estimation methods must be developed.
The goal of this study is to develop a simple, general, quantitative and reliable method for identifying subsidence susceptibility of the closed or abandoned coal mines, which is proper to be employed in geologically complicated areas. The proposed method in this paper considers only gangway depths and attitude of geological features like dip and dip direction is an optional parameter, because these data are relatively easy to acquire and generally reliable.
The depth of gangways is selected as an input data of this study after surveying the availability and effectiveness of data because it is reliable and can be easily acquired. In fact, several researchers revealed that the magnitude (volume) and depth of excavation are the principal factors influencing on the subsidence (Whittaker and Reddish, 1989; Singh and Dhar, 1997; MIRECO, 2008).
The method proposed in this study is based on the fact that the excavation volume and shape (or distribution of coal seams) are closely related to the gangway distribution. Two basic assumptions considered in the method are that the susceptibility to subsidence within a unit surface area increases as the depth of a gangway from the surface decreases and the number of gangways below the unit area increases. The first assumption is based on the bulking of failed rock mass which can fill the excavation and prohibit the propagation of roof failure. The second assumption comes from the fact that the rock mass around the excavation is damaged due to blasting and induced stresses.
The susceptibility related to the depth of a gangway is quantified using a negative exponential equation based on the results of numerical analyses (Park et al., 2005) and statistical data of subsidence occurrences in Korean coal mines as shown in Fig. 1 (MIRECO, 2008). Park et al. investigated the influence of the depth and width of excavation and of the spacing and dip of discontinuity on ground subsidence using PFC2D capable of modeling the bulking effect and showed that the overburden remains undamaged as the mining depth increases. Fig. 1 shows that most of subsidence occurred within a depth of 100 m from the surface. The number of subsidence events decreases exponentially as the gangway depth increases.