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Calculation of Vertical Stress Exerted by Topographic Features
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  • Description:
    An accurate assessment of the vertical stress on a coal seam at depth is important for mine design. Vertical stress calculation techniques presently available either are not sufficiently accurate or cannot handle complex surface topography. Therefore, the U.S. Bureau of Mines developed a computerized method to calculate vertical stress exerted on surfaces at depth that includes the effect of topography. Two input data sets are required: a digital elevation model containing topographic elevations and a coal seam file defining coal seam elevations at depth. Boussinesq's equation then quantifies the vertical stress resulting from topography. The computerized method was tested on a coal seam overlain by a complex topography where a vertical stress map encompassing several square miles was produced. Results show that depth mitigates the affects of surface topography, while the coal seam topography has a direct effect on the vertical stress. In comparison to the computerized method, the direct stress method overestimates stress under hills and underestimates stress under valleys. The largest difference between the two methods occurs under the steepest topographic relief. A limitation of the computerized method is that stresses cannot be accurately determined near an outcrop.

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