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Constraints on behaviour of a mining‐induced earthquake inferred from laboratory rock mechanics experiments

January 1, 2013

On December 12, 2004, an earthquake of magnitude 2.2, located in the TauTona Gold Mine at a depth of about 3.65 km in the ancient Pretorius fault zone, was recorded by the in-mine borehole seismic network, yielding an excellent set of ground motion data recorded at hypocentral distances of several km. From these data, the seismic moment tensor, indicating mostly normal faulting with a small implosive component, and the radiated energy were measured; the deviatoric component of the moment tensor was estimated to be M0 = 2.3×1012 N·m and the radiated energy ER = 5.4×108 J. This event caused extensive damage along tunnels within the Pretorius fault zone. What rendered this earthquake of particular interest was the underground investigation of the complex pattern of exposed rupture surfaces combined with laboratory testing of rock samples retrieved from the ancient fault zone (Heesakkers et al.2011a, 2011b). Event 12/12 2004 was the result of fault slip across at least four nonparallel fault surfaces; 25 mm of slip was measured at one location on the rupture segment that is most parallel with a fault plane inferred from the seismic moment tensor, suggesting that this segment accounted for much of the total seismic deformation. By applying a recently developed technique based on biaxial stick-slip friction experiments (McGarr2012, 2013) to the seismic results, together with the 25 mm slip observed underground, we estimated a maximum slip rate of at least 6.6 m/s, which is consistent with the observed damage to tunnels in the rupture zone. Similarly, the stress drop and apparent stress were found to be correspondingly high at 21.9 MPa and 6.6 MPa, respectively. The ambient state of stress, measured at the approximate depth of the earthquake but away from the influence of mining, in conjunction with laboratory measurements of the strength of the fault zone cataclasites, indicates that during rupture of the M 2.2 event, the normal stress acting on the large-slip fault segment was about 260 MPa, the yield stress was 172 MPa and the seismic efficiency was 0.05. Thus, for event 12/12 2004, 5% of the energy released by the earthquake was radiated and the remaining 95% was consumed in overcoming fault friction and expanding the zone of rupture.

Publication Year 2013
Title Constraints on behaviour of a mining‐induced earthquake inferred from laboratory rock mechanics experiments
Authors Arthur F. McGarr, Malcolm J. S. Johnston, M. Boettcher, V. Heesakkers, Z. Reches
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70192466
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Earthquake Science Center