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The Assessment of Sonic Waves and Tracer Gases as Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) Methods for In-Situ Underground Mine Seals
Since the MINER Act of 2006, the minimum static load of in-situ underground mine seals has been increased from 20-psi to either 50-psi if monitoring is conducted or 120-psi if left unmonitored. These minimum strength requirements in seals must be designed, built, and maintained throughout the lifetime of the seal. Due to this, it has become necessary to assess the effectiveness of non-destructive testing (NDT) technologies to determine seal integrity, which in this case, are explored using sonic waves and tracer gases. Through both small and large scale testing, two NDT methods were evaluated on their abilities to determine integrity of the seal. A sonic wave technique to observe a change in wave velocity to identify faults within the seal material. As a NDT method, tracer gases may be used as a potential indicator of a connection between both sides of the seal material through a series of faults and cracks within the material itself. This paper reviews the history of underground mine seals and discusses the overall assessment of sonic waves and tracer gases to serve as NDT methods for estimating the integrity of these seals.