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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Closure of Fracture Due to Cover Stress Re-establishment After Coal Mining


In situ measurements of deformations, stresses, and closure of fractures, affecting water inflow following coal mining, are challenging due to the inaccessibility of fractured rock. In this paper, the authors studied the closure process of the fractured rock mass with the cover stress re-establishment based on a theoretical analysis and a scale model testing. A quantitative analysis is used to study the fracture distribution in the fractured zone. A function to describe a fracture aperture distribution in the fractured zone is proposed, which takes into account the curvature and thickness of the fractured rock. The theoretical analysis and a scale model testing both indicate that the cover stress re-establishment with mining distance increasing and the relationship between the fracture closure and cover stress re-establishment both satisfy a logarithmic function. The scale model test also shows the following features: (1) the fracture ratio (which is the fracture area divided by the total area of fracture and intact rock with a unit width in the vertical or horizontal direction) in the lower part of the fractured rock mass is greater than that in the upper part; (2) the initially fast decreased of fracture ratios is then followed by a slower decrease during the cover stress re-establishment process; (3) in the upper part of the rock mass, the vertical directional fractures with small apertures are being closed with cover stress re-establishment, which indicates an increase in the water resistance reducing the seepage from these parts of the fractured zone. This study improves the general understanding of the fracture closure process and cover stress re-establishment in the fractured rock mass after coal mining ceased, and provides a theoretical basis for water resource protection in case of underground coal mining.

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