Performance of Pillars in Rock Salt Mines
Lau, Linda I Hein
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The viscoelastic and creep properties of salt create challenges in the design of salt mines. Salt undergoes steady state creep for a long period of time, and the time of failure is not easily predicted. Developing functions for creep behavior is important in predicting the deformation of salt pillars. Through literature reviews, it was found that there are many relationships to determine the deformation rate of salt specimens through constitutive models. Mine panels have also been modeled to understand the stress and deformational behavior of the pillars. The purpose of this was project was to develop a relationship that determines the convergence rate from knowing the pillar width to pillar height ratio and thickness of the salt strata immediately above and below the mine. The third power law was adopted in the modeling of salt pillars, which is applicable to low stresses of less than 10 MPa that is typical of salt mine conditions. The finite difference software, FLAC3D was used for the simulations of salt pillar models. A square pillar was modeled using four pillar width to pillar height ratios from 1.5 to 4.6. In mining practices, the pillar width to pillar height ratios are designed to be 1.0 to 5.0. Three sets of pillar dimensions were used for each pillar width to pillar height ratio, this was done to determine whether different room and pillar dimensions for each pillar width to pillar height ratio resulted in different convergence rates. Eight salt thicknesses of 0 m to 26 m were modeled for each set of pillar dimensions, which was sufficient to determine the effect of salt thickness on convergence rate. From the modeled results, general trends among the various pillar width to pillar height ratios were observed. The convergence rate increased as the pillar width to pillar height ratio decreased. In addition, an exponential relationship was found between the convergence rate and the pillar width to pillar height ratio. There was a strong correlation between convergence values calculated from the developed function and the modeled values for the power law exponent of three. The developed expression can be used to estimate the convergence rate due to pillar compression and room convergence.