Geological controls on strainburst risk in deep mining drifts

A strainburst is a sudden violent failure of rock triggered around a tunnel boundary. They are often unpredictable and pose an extreme risk to workers in deep underground mines and tunnels. The goal of this project is to investigate the fundamental mechanisms by which these failures can occur. This knowledge will be used to better identify high risk environments and to design risk mitigation strategies that target site specific failure mechanisms. These objectives will be completed through an analysis of a large strainburst database to classify events, field measurements of rockmass properties, site investigations of the geological environments associated with strainbursts, and numerical modeling to investigate potential failure mechanisms. The benefit of this project to Vale is a better understanding of the failure mechanisms specific to Vale mines in Sudbury, Ontario. This knowledge will help prevent future injuries to workers and help to prevent costly delays to production.

Faculty Supervisor:

Steve McKinnon


Andrew McDonald


Vale Ltd.




Automotive and transportation


Queen's University



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