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Influence of longwall support on the occurrence of roof cavities


The forming of roof cavities in longwall faces is a complicated process. A likely explanation for this process is the presence of relaxed zones in the first beds of the roof above and ahead of the support. If existing or potential fissures are allowed to open through insufficient constraint, the block of roof delimited by these fissures will collapse. An increasing unsupported distance, an increasing distance between the face and the first row of legs, a lower vertical bearing force and a lower support pressure on the roof will increase the extent of the relaxed zones. These effects are investigated through underground observations and numerical modelling.

Supplementary to this local influence, there is also a spatial relation between the support characteristics of one element in one coal step and the occurrence of fall outs in the roof uncovered by the next coal steps (3 on average) and above the neighbourhood elements (2 to 4 on average). It is probable that, once a cavity is formed, it is extended easily (in the two directions), until appropriate measures are taken.

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Vervoort, A. Influence of longwall support on the occurrence of roof cavities. International Journal of Mining and Geological Engineering 6, 313–326 (1988).

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  • Longwall coal faces
  • numerical modelling
  • powered roof support
  • rock mechanics
  • roof cavities