implosional focal mechanism
Gentry Mountain coal mines
eastern Wasatch Plateau
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Abstract In the summer of 1984, a three-dimensional, high-resolution microearthquake network was operated in the vicinity of two coal mines beneath Gentry Mountain in the eastern Wasatch Plateau, Utah. During a six-week period, approximately 3,000 seismic events were observed of which the majority were impulsive, higher frequency (〉10 Hz), short duration (〈2–3 sec) events probably associated with the caving of the roof from a longwall operation. In contrast, 234 of the largest located events appeared to occur predominantlybeneath the mines to a depth of 2 to 3 km consistent with previous studies. The magnitudes of these events ranged from less thanM c 0 to 1.6. In addition to the unusual depths of these latter events, an anomalous aspect displayed by the events was an apparent dilatational focal mechanism suggesting a non-double-couple, possibly implosional source. Implosional events have been observed in other studies of mine seismicity; however, the generally inadequate instrumental coverage of the focal sphere has cast some doubt on the validity of such mechanisms. Previously suggested source mechanisms for such implosional events have included tensional failure through strata collapse, and a shear-implosional displacement mechanism. Shear failure must be involved in the failure process of the Gentry Mountain implosional events as evidenced by well-defined shear waves in the observed seismograms. Simultaneous monitoring in the East Mountain coal mining area to the south by the University of Utah revealed typical shear failure events mixed with implosional events. The observed double-couple, reverse focal mechanisms at East Mountain were similar to mechanisms determined in previous studies and a composite focal mechanism determined in this study for a sequence outside the mining areas. This suggested that the shear events within the mining areas are being influenced by the regional tectonic stress field. Thus in addition to the seismic events associated with caving of the roof from the longwall operation, there appear to be at least two other types of mining-induced seismic events occurring in the eastern Wasatch Plateau, both submine in origin: (1) events characterized by apparent non-double-couple possibly implosional focal mechanisms and well-defined shear waves; and (2) shear events, which are indistinguishable from tectonic earthquakes and may be considered mining “triggered” earthquakes. The small mining-induced stress changes that occur beyond a few hundred meters from the mine workings suggest both types of seismic events are occurring on critically stressed, pre-existing zones of weakness. Topography, overburden, method of mining, and mine configuration also appear to be significant factors influencing the occurrence of the implosional submine events.
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