Application of discrete fracture networks in mining and civil geomechanics
Discrete Fracture Networks (DFNs) appear to be used differently in mining and civil applications. In mining, DFNs are used primarily within the context of Synthetic Rock Mass (SRM) models to estimate rock mass strength and deformation characteristics for use in mine-scale analysis of mass mining, i.e., cave mines and large open pits. Discrete Fracture Networks are also used in mining to estimate fragmentation distributions, kinematic block stability and groundwater flow into mines. Applications of DFNs in traditional civil engineering are perhaps less common than those in mining. However, more DFN-related research has been performed in support of nuclear waste repositories than for mining. This is because hydraulic properties of fractured rock and the associated flow prediction are of crucial importance for nuclear waste repositories. This paper attempts to highlight some of the developments of DFN applications in both mining and civil engineering. No attempt is made to delve into the details of DFN generation (e.g., scaling laws), but attention is given to some challenges faced in mining and civil geomechanics when trying to use DFNs.
Keywords: Synthetic rock mass (SRM), Discrete element method (DEM), Particle flow code (PFC)