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Journal of the Southern African Institute of Mining and Metallurgy

On-line version ISSN 2411-9717

Abstract

ESTERHUIZEN, G.S.. Extending empirical evidence through numerical modelling in rock engineering design. J. S. Afr. Inst. Min. Metall. [online]. 2014, vol.114, n.10, pp. 755-764. ISSN 2411-9717.

Models are used in engineering to reproduce reality as faithfully as possible so that the expected response of a system for given actions or inputs can be determined. In the field of rock engineering, both empirically based and numerical models are widely used to determine the likely response of the rock surrounding excavations. Many of the empirical models are developed from statistical analysis of case histories or from direct observation; however, empirical models are limited because they should be used only within the range of conditions of the observational database. Synergy exists between empirical and numerical models, because empirical models can be used to calibrate and validate numerical models. The empirical approach can benefit from the capability of numerical models to investigate specific mechanisms, which would not be possible using observations alone. Two cases are presented in which the synergy between empirical and numerical models is demonstrated. The first case examines the analysis of discontinuity effects on the strength of slender pillars in limestone mines, and the second case evaluates the effects of stress orientation on coal mine entry stability. It is concluded that numerical model calibration and verification comprises an important first stage in the successful application of models in rock engineering design. Application of numerical models allows mechanisms and interactions of various parameters to be analysed, greatly improving the understanding of the system. The improved understanding can be used to extend the application of empirical design methods, resulting in improved safety and efficiency of rock engineering designs.

Keywords : rock engineering; empirical design; numerical modelling.

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