Prediction of Rock Mass Deformations in Three Dimensions for a Part of an Open Pit Mine and Comparison with Field Deformation Monitoring Data

Pinnaduwa H.S.W. Kulatilake, Biao Shu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The intact rock properties and discontinuity properties for both DRC and DP rock formations that exist in the selected open pit mine were determined from tests conducted on rock samples collected from the mine site. Special survey equipment which has a total station, laser scanner and a camera was used to perform remote fracture mapping in the research area selected at the mine site. From remote fracture mapping data, the fracture orientation, spacing and density were calculated in a much refined way in this study compared to what exist in the literature. Discontinuity orientation distributions obtained through remote fracture mapping agreed very well with the results of manual fracture mapping conducted by the mining company. GSI rock quality system and Hoek–Brown failure criteria were used to estimate the rock mass properties combining the fracture mapping results with laboratory test results of intact rock samples. Fault properties and the DRC–DP contact properties were estimated based on the laboratory discontinuity test results. A geological model was built in a 3DEC model including all the major faults, DRC–DP contact, and two stages of rock excavation. The built major discontinuity system of 44 faults in 3DEC with their real orientations, locations and three dimensional extensions were validated successfully using the fault geometry data provided by the mining company using seven cross sections. Numerical modeling was conducted to study the effect of boundary conditions and lateral stress ratio on the stability of the considered rock slope. For the considered section of the rock slope, the displacements obtained through stress boundary conditions were seemed more realistic than that obtained through zero velocity boundary conditions (on all four lateral faces). Stable deformation distributions were obtained for k0 in the range of 0.4–0.7. Because the studied rock mass is quite stable, it seems that an appropriate range for k0 for this rock mass is between 0.4 and 0.7. The displacements occurred between July 2011 and July 2012 due to the nearby rock mass excavation that took place during the same period were compared between the field monitoring results available from the mining company and the predicted numerical modeling results; the best agreement was obtained for k0 = 0.4. Therefore, k0 = 0.4 can be decided as the most appropriate value for the studied mine site. In overall, the successful simulation of the rock excavation during a certain time period indicated the possibility of using the procedure developed in this study to investigate rock slope stability with respect to expected future rock excavations in mine planning.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1551-1568
Number of pages18
JournalGeotechnical and Geological Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015


  • 3-D discontinuum stress analysis
  • Open-pit mine
  • Rock slope stability
  • Simulation of excavation
  • Validation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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