Quantitative Comparison of Seismic Velocity Tomography With Seismic Activity Around a Deep Coal Longwall Panel
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One of the main precursors to large seismic events is an increase in situ stress. One way to find areas within geological strata that are highly stressed is to measure p-wave propagation velocities. High p-wave propagation velocities are associated with high in-situ stress levels. By using tomography programs a three-dimensional velocity model can be constructed. When seismic activity is present the event arrival times at each geophone, the locations of each geophone, and the three dimensional velocity model are used in conjunction with one another to locate the seismic events.
This research compares the locations of seismic events from a deep coal mine longwall panel in the western United States with the associated p-wave propagation velocities from the previous 24 hours. The aim of this comparison is to provide a link between high velocities and seismic activity that could potentially be used to forecast future seismic activity. The comparison is completed both qualitatively through the use of a visual analysis, and quantitatively using various numerical and correlation comparisons on the seismic and velocity data. The qualitative comparison is completed using the event locations from the tomography program SIMULPS. The quantitative comparison is completed twice using two different tomography programs, SIMULPS and TomoDD, which use different methods for locating the seismic events.
Before these comparisons were completed the stresses around the longwall panel were first modeled using the boundary element modeling program LAMODEL to study the effects of three backfilled cross panel entries which were located ahead of the mining face. The modeling showed similar vertical stress distributions as a panel without cross panel entries but higher stress magnitudes.
The qualitative analysis involved comparing tomograms created with SIMULPS with seismicity plots from the following day. One noticeable feature of these tomograms is the presence of a stressed area directly ahead of the face. This stressed area represents the forward abutment. The results of this qualitative analysis illustrate a correlation between high p-wave velocities and seismic activity 24 hours later for several of the days studied. The other days showed little to no correlation. Additionally, not all high p-wave velocity regions resulted in seismic activity. Due to these inconsistencies visually analyzing velocity plots obtained from the program SIMULPS is not a reliable way to forecast the locations of seismic activity 24 hours later.
The result of the quantitative comparisons completed with the programs SIMULPS and TomoDD further highlighted inconsistencies in the correlation between high p-wave velocities and associated seismic activity 24 hours later. TomoDD provided better correlation values than SIMULPS and generally showed that as the level of seismicity increased the p-wave propagation velocities 24 hours prior also increased. Although TomoDD provided good correlations for some of the data pairs studied, the overall inconsistencies prompt the need for further study in this area using TomoDD to find the optimal forecasting time period.
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