Macro/meso failure behavior of surrounding rock in deep roadway and its control technology
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Engineering disasters occur frequently and violently with the increase in mining depth, which is mostly due to insufficient study on the failure mechanism of the deep rock mass. In this paper, theoretical and experimental researches on the failure behaviors and deformation control of deep surrounding rock in recent years were reviewed. Macro/meso failure mechanism of deep rock or coal–rock combined body under different loading conditions have been systematically investigated. Stress gradient failure theory of surrounding rock, uniform strength support in the deep roadway, and the analogous hyperbola movement model of overlying strata were preliminary established and a combined grouting control technology for surface and underground was proposed. Abovementioned achievements are expected to offer theoretical bases and technical supports for the exploitation of China’s deep mineral resources in the future.
KeywordsFailure mechanics Deep mining Control of surrounding rock Failure mechanism
Economic growth is strongly dependent on the exploitation of mineral resources and the depth of underground mining is increasing with the depletion of resources in the shallow surface. At present, the major mining countries in the world have carried out the excavation of deep mining and coal mining depth has reached 1500 m, geothermal mining depth has exceeded 3000 m, non-ferrous metal mining depth has passed 4350 m, and oil and natural gas resources mining depth has come to 7500 m (Xie et al. 2015a). More than 100 mines with the mining depth over 1000 m are distributed in South Africa, Canada, Germany, Russia, Poland and other countries, of which South Africa is the most representative one. For domestic coal mining, the coal resources mined in the depth exceeding 1000 m account for 53% of the total proved amount of reserves in the country (Xie et al. 2005). There are now about 47 deep mines with an average mining depth of 1086 m in China, and the depth of exploitation is rising at the rate of 10–25 m per year (Xie 2017).
More engineering disasters arose along with the increase of mining depth, and the disasters tend to be more hazardous and critical: severe deformation of roadway, intensive ground pressure at working face, more rock bursts and coal bumps, violent instability of working face, high accumulation of gas, increased gas pressure, increased probability and seriousness of water inrush accidents (Zhou et al. 2005). For the moment, the practice in deep engineering has greatly advanced the basic theoretical research in rock mechanics (Xie et al. 2015a), and the insufficient study on the failure mechanism of deep rock causes difficulties in disaster prevention and control. The engineering practices based on the mechanics for shallow rock are thought to be blind and inefficient, therefore, the research on the failure behavior and mechanism of deep rock and deformation control of deep surrounding rock need to be further studied. In the basic theory of deep rock mechanics, He (2005) and He et al. (2005) explained systematically the concepts and engineering evaluation index of deep rock, illustrating the mechanical properties of rock in deep mining. According to Xie et al. (2015a, b, 2017), four key scientific issues, five major research contents and nine researching frontiers were put forward in the discussion of conceptual and fundamental matters in deep rock mechanics. In the prevention and control of deep surrounding rock dynamic disasters, major scientific problems to be solved in the study of rock burst in coal mining were presented on the basis of the research achievements (Jiang et al. 2014; Jiang and Zhao 2015). Based on the study and site practices on the theory of coal bumps, with the stress control as the center and the unit stress gradient as the coal bumps stress control, the prevention theory was raised by Qi et al. (2013). Pan et al. (2014) established a dynamic model of roadway surrounding rock and support response in the rock burst, and two new support methods that increasing support stiffness and rapid energy-absorption support were proposed. In surrounding rock control in the deep roadway, and Hou (2017a, b) stated effective approaches focus on the technological difficulties. Kang (2005) explained the rock bolting technology can meet the problems of coal bumps (Kang et al. 2015) and floor heave (Zhang et al. 2013) with high efficiency and low cost. Ma et al. (2015) analyzed the formative mechanics and morphological characteristics of the plastic zone of surrounding rock on bidirectional non-constant pressure, developing the long-extension bolt support technology which obtained better supporting results to the intense subsidence of the roof. By analyzing the weakness of the commonly-used bolt supporting, Zhang and Gao (2004) raised the method of pretension bolt with high strength, and a series of critical technologies of surrounding rock control in goaf entry retaining was summed up (Zhang et al. 2014), containing the methods of pre-splitting pressure relief, district control, structure parameters optimization, “three support zones forming one system” surrounding rock control and rapid construction of roadside wall.
In this paper, a series of studies on failure mechanics and control of deep surrounding rock by the authors and their team in recent years were summarized, including macro/meso failure mechanism of deep rock, failure behaviors of deep coal–rock combined body, failure mechanism of deep rock under thermal–mechanical coupling effects, failure mechanism of deep surrounding rock under stress gradient effect, theory and technology of uniform strength support in deep coal mine roadway, theoretical model of overlying strata movement, combined grouting control technology for surface and underground. The abovementioned achievements are expected to enrich the theories of deep rock mechanics and offer practical guidance for deep mining engineering.
2 The failure behaviors of deep and high-stress rock mass
In experimental research, confining pressure is usually applied to simulate the in-situ conditions, and deformation characteristics of rock under compression condition are studied to reveal its failure mechanism. Since Von Kármán (1911) first carried out compression tests of marble under different confining pressures, extensive experiments on the failure characteristics of rock under confining pressure have been conducted by many scholars. The basic mechanical properties of rock deformation and strength under high-stress are summarized as below.
2.1 Brittle–ductile transition of rock deformation
2.2 Strength criterion of rock
The strength of rock increase with the raise of depth generally, in some mining areas, when the mining depth changed from less than 600 m to 800–1000 m, the proportion of rocks in strength of 21–40 MPa declined from 30% to 24%, while that of 81–100 MPa grew from 5.5% to 24.5% (Li et al. 1996).
3 Macro/meso failure behaviors of deep rock
The non-linear behavior of deep rock materials is more prominent, and the large-scale disasters with high energy level induced by excavation occur frequently in deep mining (Xie 2017). It is of great theoretical and practical significance to study the mechanical properties of deep rock and reveal its deformation and failure mechanism for disaster prevention in deep engineering projects. During the past decades, considerable efforts have been devoted to investigating the failure mechanism of various rocks. Initially, the rock failure mechanism is mainly studied at macroscale, by analyzing the mechanical behaviors of rock during uniaxial compression tests (Hoek and Bieniawski 1965; Bieniawski 1967; Wawersik and Fairhurst 1970). In recent years, the rapid development of observational technology has made it possible to investigate the rock failure mechanism at mesoscale. Scanning electron microscope (Hull 1999; Zhang et al. 2000; Zhang and Zhao 2013) and computed tomography (Feng et al. 2004; Wang et al. 2014; Yang et al. 2017) are the most commonly used technologies to investigate the failure mechanism at mesoscale, by observing the meso-morphology of rock fracture.
In recent years, the authors have conducted a series of theoretical and experimental researches in macro/meso failure behaviors. Here, we define the mesoscale as the characteristic dimension of the rock microstructure, which is approximately the size of the rock mineral grain. The macroscopic mechanical behavior of rocks is considered to be the result of microcrack interactions at mesoscale scales.
3.1 Macroscopic mechanical behavior
The investigation on the correlation between micro mineral composition and macro-mechanical behavior indicated that, the diversities of mineral composition and particle size of rock at different depths were the main reasons for the significant increase in the above indexes in the long geological movement, and the content of high strength minerals had a great influence on the overall mechanical properties only when it exceeded a certain critical value (Zuo et al. 2015b).
3.2 Mecroscopic mechanical behavior
On the mesoscale, the fracture mechanics of deep rock is studied by scanning electron microscope (SEM) with loading and heating devices to reveal the meso-fracture mechanism of deep rock.
4 The failure behaviors of coal–rock combined body in deep mining
The failure of shallow coal–rock combined body is mainly dominant by its own fissure structural plane while that of the deep combined body is not only affected by its structural plane, but also the overall structure. Coupled with the high stress in deep rock, many disasters of rock burst essentially result from the overall failure and instability of the coal–rock combined body under the strong disturbance of engineering geology (Liu et al.2013). Therefore, it is important to study the mechanical properties and failure mechanism of coal–rock combined body for predicting and preventing impact ground pressure. Predicting rock burst hazard is always a research hotspot. For examples, Lu et al. (2012) investigated the rock burst forecasting method by applying small scale, laboratory modeling of the coal mine roof, coal and its floor. Li et al. (2017) presented a novel application of Bayesian networks to predict rock burst.
In the study on non-linear energy evolution of failure behaviors of coal–rock combined body (Chen et al. 2017), the experimental results of uniaxial and cyclic loading–unloading compression tests of coal–rock combined body explained that the relationship between input energy density and stress can be expressed as three phases, namely, gradually increase phase, non-linear increase stage and post-peak drop phase. Under uniaxial compression, input energy density and the elastic energy density rose with stress. As the stress rose, the dissipated energy density declined gradually to 0 and then grew rapidly, reflecting sophisticated non-linear characteristics of the combined body. Under cyclic loading and unloading compression, the input energy density, elastic energy density and dissipated energy density grew with the growth of stress. When the sample yields, the proportion of dissipated energy increased and that of elastic energy decreased. The conclusions provide a theoretical reference for the energy driving mechanism of dynamic disasters in the coal mine.
In the investigation on crack evolution of coal–rock combined body (Zuo et al. 2017c), it was found that the whole failure process can be divided into four stages based on the correlation of axial crack strain and axial strain, that is to say initial stage, stable stage, slow-growth stage and rapid-growth stage. The characteristics of the axial crack strain varying with the axial stress were similar to those changing with the axial strain. In the experiment of coal–rock combined body under loading–unloading effects, the primary fissures were compacted by degrees with the cycling times which led to the phenomenon that the proportion of elastic strain raised and axial residual strain dropped.
The rise of load aggravated the dilatancy of coal and produced circumferential cracks, leading to the result that the proportion of circumferential elastic strain increased first and then decreased. The strain of the axial crack grew initially, and then remained basically unchanged with the stress. The inflection point of the strain–stress curve showed the closure of cracks, and the matched stress and strain were the axial crack closure stress and strain. The axial crack stress and strain rose with the loading times since the new cracks and pores were hard to close (Chen et al. 2018). The variation law of cracks in coal–rock combined body under unloading condition was analyzed. The results indicated that the crack closure stress (strain) and recovery stress (strain) grew with the rising cyclic times. New cracks were produced as the raise of stress levels, and the differences of axial crack closure stress, axial crack recovery stress, axial crack stress all increased with the cyclic times (Zuo et al. 2017d).
5 Failure behaviors of deep rock under thermal and mechanical coupled effects
6 Stress gradient failure theory of surrounding rock in deep roadway (Zuo et al. 2018b)
7 Mining discontinuous deformation analysis (MDDA) and roadway supporting technologies
8 The movement mechanism and model of rock strata
With the greater demands of the accuracy and reliability in the calculation of surface subsidence caused by the technologies of underbuilding, railways and water bodies mining, the probability integral method has to tackle the problems in adapting to the new circumstances (Yang and Dai 2016), since the coal mine subsidence was deemed to be a typical mechanical behavior (Liu and Dai 2016). As a mathematical approach, the probabilistic integral method was inadequate in interpreting the mechanical mechanism and law of strata movement in deep mining. To solve the imperfect points in the theory, several types of research have been conducted by the first author to discuss the mechanism of rock strata and surface movement.
9 A combined grouting control technology for surface and underground
Grouting refers to the physical or chemical methods of improving the physical and mechanical properties of a fractured rock mass or a defective structure by injecting a liquid material that can be solidified into it (Kang and Feng, 2013). Existing cement-based grouting materials for water plugging generally have the shortcomings on poor stability of grouting slurry, a large degree of bleeding and long setting time. The consolidation rate as well as volume stability is relatively low under the influence of dynamic water washout, bringing about the secondary water leakage and cracking of rock in the reinforced area after grouting completion. Aiming at above difficulties, a number of researches are being conducted by authors as follows.
The properties of waterproof material were investigated in detail, including gelation time, time-dependent cohesion and anti-washout, and the impact of the above properties on the durability of grouting body was studied with the analysis of failure process of consolidation which was observed by various methods, for instance, ion corrosion, acoustic emission, etc. To reveal the mechanical mechanism of the long durability of the material, a refined calculation model describing fiber-substrate-interface characteristics was proposed to simulate the crack propagation after the corrosion of fiber reinforced material. According to the time-dependent rheology of grouting slurry, the features of grout seepage in fractured rock was discussed, and the influences of the aperture, connectivity and distribution of cracks on grout seepage with different ratios were indicated, demonstrating the mechanism of grout-fractured rock under fluid–solid coupling effects.
“Reconstituted compression ring” was put forward. Combined with available support systems, grouting support was supposed to be a valid approach to enhance the bearing capacity, and grouting reinforcement could change the stress state of surrounding rock as well as increase the thickness of the compression ring. At the same time, with the filling and reinforcement to the surrounding rock by grout, rock was prevented effectively from loosening and breaking. Grouting slurry filled interconnected cracks in rock mass of the compression ring, thus restraining the rheology of the rock mass. Due to compaction of rock in compression ring, the closed cracks and fissures which were unfilled could be compressed under the grouting pressure. Therefore, several advantages of grouting reinforcement are exhibited, including increasing strength of rock in compression ring as well as improving bearing capacity, integrity and force condition of the compression ring. The “reconstituted compression ring” was regarded to be formed, since the surrounding rock was expected to restore to the in-situ stress state which was shown before damage and failure, and the supporting effect of surrounding rock was improved.
At present, some problems center on the failure behaviors of deep rock still needs to be further studied, although numerous theoretical, experimental and numerical simulation researches have been done by the scholars.
Various techniques have been applied to discuss the features of deformation and failure for rocks from a mesoscale, namely, scanning electron microscope, atomic force microscope, computed tomography, nuclear magnetic resonance, etc., but the macroscopic parameters used to demonstrate the mechanical response of rock are assumed to be homogeneous, continuous and isotropic. At the mesoscale, the influence of heterogeneity of rock structure and composition on its deformation and failure mechanism cannot be overlooked. Therefore, on the basis of fine characterization of meso-heterogeneity of rock, a theoretical model of rock mechanics at meso-scale should be established to quantitatively describe its mechanical response and investigate the impact of meso-mechanism on macro-behaviors and properties, thus proposing the mechanical model on multi-scale.
The failure of coal–rock combined body from shallow mining is mainly determined by its fissures and structural planes, while in deep mining, the damage of coal–rock combined body is affected not only by its defects, but also by the integral structure markedly. Generous disasters of coal bumps are essentially the outcomes of the overall instability failure of the combined body under the strong disturbance of engineering geology. Taking into account the complicated geological environment of deep coal–rock combined body, the failure behaviors of coal–rock combined body under the effects of different moisture content, temperatures and mining stress should be further studied.
The scientific and intensive discussion should be launched since it’s difficult to confirm the coupling relationships among multi-physical fields due to the sophisticated geological and mechanical environment of deep rock. In laboratory tests, several troubles are found in the realization of complex coupling condition corresponding to the real geological state of deep rock, which raises higher requirements for experimental technology and equipment.
The theoretical model of surrounding rock failure considering stress gradient in deep roadway preliminarily proposed by authors is based on the ideal roadway model. In the actual projects, complex natural fissures exist in the surrounding rock of roadway, and the complicated fissure field influences the stress distribution significantly. According to the available failure mechanism of the fractured rock mass, further development and relevant test verification of the theoretical model of surrounding rock failure considering stress gradient in the deep roadway are the work to be conducted in future.
On the basis of the thorough understanding of the damage features of surrounding rock, the theory of uniform strength support in the deep roadway is supposed to be investigated in detail.
According to the coupling mechanism among surrounding rock of roadway, other support methods, and concrete-filled steel tube as well as stress distribution of surrounding rock-support system, the concrete filled steel tube is taken as major bearing body and the purpose of simultaneous and uniform compression of the support structure in the roadway section is achieved by adjusting the local support strength, which realizes the effect of uniform support ultimately. The modular standard construction technology and prefabricated support technology of concrete-filled steel tubular support are formed by designing assembled concrete-filled steel support, which ensures the rapid and convenient construction of uniform support of deep surrounding rock.
In the theories of strata movement and control, a mechanical model of overlying strata movement is established in terms of the nonlinear constitutive relation of large deformation of deep rock, and the movement law of internal damage in strata is revealed from a mechanical view. The model can estimate the stability time after the strata failure with greater accuracy and illustrate the shape, process and scale of surface subsidence.
The mechanical properties and its complicated geological environment lead to more severe and frequent engineering disasters in deep mining projects. Since the traditional theory of rock mechanics and control method of surrounding rock based on shallow resource exploitation cannot guide the deep mining effectively, it is urgent to develop novel theories and methods applicable for deep engineering. A series of researches on the failure behaviors of deep rock and control technology of deep surrounding rock has been carried out by the author with the approaches of theories, experiments and numerical simulation. In the study of rock failure, the failure mechanisms of deep rock from macro/meso view, coal–rock combined body, macro/meso deformation under thermal–mechanical effects were revealed. To discuss the deformation control of deep surrounding rock, a failure model considering stress gradient and a uniform support theory for deep surrounding rock were proposed based on the stress distribution in rock. And an analogous hyperbola model describing the movement of overlying in terms of the movement laws of surface and overlying strata as well as the combined grouting control technology for surface and underground were put forward rigorously. The abovementioned theories and practical research are willing to offer guidance and reference for the exploitation of deep resources in China.
This study was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (51622404, 11572343 and 41877257), the Yueqi outstanding scholar of CUMTB, Outstanding Young Talents of “Ten Thousand People Plan (W02070044)” and Beijing Excellent Young Scientists.
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