Influence of an Inclined Rock Stratum on In-Situ Stress State in an Open-Pit Mine

Wenhui Tan, P. H.S.W. Kulatilake, Hongbao Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In-situ stress plays a major role with respect to deformation and stability around underground or surficial excavations located at significant depth. Many sedimentary rock masses are more or less horizontally bedded. However, a possibility exists to have one or few inclined rock strata such as dikes in these horizontally bedded formations. It is important to know how the in situ stress changes from a purely horizontally bedded situation to a horizontally bedded rock mass that contains one or few inclined rock strata. This paper presents such an investigation using the largest open-pit metal mine in China-as a case study. This mine has a bedded rock mass with one steeply inclined rock stratum. For the bedded rock mass, the vertical stress was calculated based on the overburden above each lithology. The available in situ stress measurements conducted at the mine were used to estimate the ratios of horizontal to vertical stress. Numerical modeling was performed for the two scenarios: (a) the horizontally bedded system subjected to both the in situ and boundary stresses and (b) the mine lithological system that includes an inclined stiffer (denser) stratum intruding softer horizontally bedded system subjected to only boundary stresses to investigate the influence of an inclined rock stratum on the computed stress field. Thirty points were selected to compute the stresses on six planes of the inclined rock stratum. Due to the discontinuous nature of the geologic system at the interface between the stiffer inclined stratum and softer horizontally bedded system, one principal stress has become normal to the interface plane and the other two have become parallel to the interface plane with all three being perpendicular to each other. Presence of the stiffer inclined rock stratum has given rise to (a) increase in normal stresses up to about 120 % in the inclined rock stratum and (b) new shear stresses approximately in the range -10.0 to 15.0 MPa. This means, because most of the rock masses are not purely horizontally bedded, estimation of in situ stress through measurements as well as application of in situ stress in numerical modeling associated with underground or surficial excavations located at significant depth is a difficult exercise. A better way to estimate the in situ stresses for complex geologic systems may be through application of appropriate boundary stresses to the geologic system in a numerical model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalGeotechnical and Geological Engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • 3DEC
  • In-situ stress
  • Inclined rock strata
  • Normalized stress difference
  • Open-pit mine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Geotechnical Engineering and Engineering Geology
  • Soil Science
  • Geology


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