2023 – Response of Earth Embankments to Blasting

Andrew Russell, Kim Henley, Robert Kingsland, Michelle Black

Managing the vibration impacts associated with blasting is a challenge for mine planners and operators and mine water dams are often subject to blasting impacts. Kingsland et al. 2015 presented, with reference to two case studies, a suggested approach for assessing the impact of mine blasting on embankment dams by considering potential failure modes. Acceleration is a key input for the assessment method and blasting effects on dams are compared to earthquake impacts where there is large body of knowledge available. Earthquakes have larger displacements, lower frequencies and longer durations than blast vibrations and so previous comparisons have relied on converting vibration velocities using an arbitrary reference frequency.

Since the publication of Kingsland et al. 2015 mine production blasting has encroached on the case study dams and a rigorous regime of blast monitoring has been carried out along with dam surveillance inspections, survey and instrumentation readings.

This paper interrogates years of data and proposes an amended approach to evaluating dams subject to blasting vibrations, both during the design phase and subsequently the monitoring phase. A more meaningful reference frequency for considering dam impacts is proposed along with a revised approach for considering blast magnitude in the analysis.

This paper has also demonstrated the benefits that result from collaboration between dam designer and blast designer.

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