Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering

, Volume 52, Issue 11, pp 4651–4667 | Cite as

Quantitative Energy-Based Evaluation of the Intensity of Mining-Induced Seismic Activity in a Fractured Rock Mass

  • Atsushi SainokiEmail author
  • Hani S. Mitri
  • Damodara Chinnasane
  • Adam Karl Schwartzkopff
Original Paper


To elucidate the mechanism of seismic activity taking place away from extracted stopes in underground mines, this study focuses on the influence of a fracture network on the intensity of seismic activity from an energy point of view. Four seismically active regions with local geological structures and one non-active region were identified on 3880 level in the 100 and 900 Orebody areas at Copper Cliff Mine. Subsequently, cube-shaped discrete element method (DEM) models with fracture networks of the regions were generated. The stress analysis for two regions out of the four revealed that the elastic strain energy related to tensile failure quantitatively agrees well with the cumulative radiated seismic energy of the microseismic database. For the other two regions, the computed tensile failure-related strain energy was smaller than the radiated energy, leading to the postulation that the seismicity in the region was caused by violent shear rupture. The postulation was verified by quantitatively computing energy released by brittle shear failure. Then, for the seismically inactive region, the DEM analysis yielded quite small tensile failure-related strain energy. Considering these results, it was concluded that strain energy stored within rock mass with tensile failure potential can be used as an indicator for the intensity of seismicity taking place away from extracted stopes. Also, the seismic energy calculation methodology can give a reasonable estimation of seismic energy released by shear rupture taking place in geologically abnormal regions. These findings should lay a foundation for the further development of a guideline and/or simple formulation to evaluate the risk for mining-induced seismicity.


Seismic activity Underground mine Fracture network Discrete element method analysis Seismically radiated energy 

List of Symbols


Pre-mining stress state


post-mining stress state


Maximum principal stress in a pre-mining stress state


Minimum principal stress in a pre-mining stress state


Maximum principal stress after mining activity


Minimum principal stress after mining activity


Shear stress when failure takes place


Shear stress when failure terminates


Shear strain when failure takes place


Shear strain when failure terminates


Brittle shear ratio in a pre-mining stress state


Brittle shear ratio after mining activity


Seismically radiated energy


Total potential energy


Zone volume


Seismic efficiency


Elastic modulus of intact rock

Erock mass

Elastic modulus of rock mass


Poisson’s ratio


Uniaxial compressive strength


Tensile strength



This work is financially supported by a grant by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) in partnership with Vale Ltd—Sudbury Operations, Canada, under the Collaborative Research and Development Program. The authors are grateful for their support.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Atsushi Sainoki
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hani S. Mitri
    • 2
  • Damodara Chinnasane
    • 3
  • Adam Karl Schwartzkopff
    • 1
  1. 1.International Research Organization for Advanced Science and TechnologyKumamoto UniversityKumamotoJapan
  2. 2.Department of Mining and Materials EngineeringMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  3. 3.Vale Canada Ltd, Vale Ontario OperationSudburyCanada

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