Seismicity and rockbursts have been reported in Australian mines since the early 1900's. The first modern seismic monitoring system was installed in an Australian mine in 1994. In the last few years, rockbursts and mine seismicity have become a serious mine safety issue and a constraint to economic viability in several Australian mines. By the end of 1999, there will be at least 14 seismic monitoring systems installed in Australian mines. The Australian Centre for Geomechanics (ACG) has undertaken a project entitled "Mine Seismicity and Rockburst Risk Management". With the support of several of Australia's largest mining companies, the project aims to address the rockburst and mine seismicity issue in Australian mines by better defining the nature and extent of the problem and by developing risk analysis tools to quantify the hazards associated with rockbursts and mine seismicity. This paper provides an introduction to rockbursting and the research undertaken in this area to date, outlines the current extent of the problem in Australia, and introduces the objectives of the new rockburst research project at the ACG.
Rockbursts have been associated with numerous accidents and fatalities in South African, Central European and North and South American mines. Wagner (1982) wrote that "Rockbursts are the most serious and least understood problem facing deep mining operations all around the world." Brady (1990) later commented "the pervasiveness of rockbursts suggests that they remain the major unresolved ground control problem in underground mining".
A seismic event is a transient vibration or stress wave caused by an inelastic deformation in a rock mass. The deformation may be in the form of physical displacement, intact rock cracking or rockmass degradation. Seismic events are a normal response of a rock mass to stress readjustments near an excavation.