Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy
Print version ISSN 0038-223X
MALOVICHKO, D; VAN ASWEGEN, G and CLARK, R. Mechanisms of large seismic events in platinum mines of the Bushveld Complex (South Africa). J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2012, vol.112, n.6, pp. 419-429. ISSN 0038-223X.
Seismic events and pillar failures observed in two platinum mines in the Rustenburg area, South Africa, were investigated. We studied the sources of approximately 300 largest seismic events recorded in 2009. Moment tensors of these events were estimated from amplitudes and polarities of P- and S-waves. The inverted mechanisms contain isotropic implosive components in many instances. Analyses of uncertainty of the moment tensor solutions confirmed the significance of the implosive component in general. Several documented cases of pillar failure were considered in detail. For each of these a seismic moment tensor was calculated from an elastic stress model assuming an instant removal of a failed pillar. The geometries and magnitudes of the theoretical seismic moment tensors are in agreement with the observed (i.e. inverted from seismic data). The results indicate that either pillar failure or fracturing in the proximity of the reef (within a fraction of the dominant wavelength of seismic waves) are responsible for a significant portion of the large events recorded in these mines.
Keywords : seismic moment tensor; pillar failure; numerical modelling.