Stress fields in complex rock masses

The theme underlying all research in the group is stress fields in complex rock masses. Stresses are a fundamental part of stability analysis in mine design, but little effort has been put into understanding stresses in mines compared to methods of estimating rock mass strength. Most mines are located in regions of geological complexity, which is why the deposits are there in the first place. There is much anecdotal and direct evidence, including seismicity, indicating that stress fields in such environments are far from simple, even before mining takes place. Our group is using and developing a variety of tools and techniques to learn about the characteristics of stress fields  at a variety of scales (crustal to mine). The objective is to better understand rock mass behaviour, and to improve the geomechanical mine design process.

Significant progress in this area has been made through:

  • fundamental numerical modelling of fault systems, and how the stress field interacts with faults as they deform under far-field tectonic driving forces
  • application of seismic stress inversion to the analysis of stress conditions before and after a large seismic event
  • advancing the method of seismic stress inversion to enable recovery of the full stress tensor (instead of the normal orientation and ratio of principal stresses)