Identification of Mining Blasts at Mid- to Far-regional Distances Using Low Frequency Seismic Signals
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— This paper reports results from two recent monitoring experiments in Wyoming. Broadband seismic recordings of kiloton class delay-fired cast blasts and instantaneous calibration shots in the Black Thunder coal mine were made at four azimuths at ranges from 1° to 2°. The primary focus of this experiment was to observe and to explain low-frequency signals that can be seen at all azimuths and should routinely propagate above noise to mid-regional distances where most events will be recorded by International Monitoring System (IMS) stations.¶The recordings clearly demonstrate that large millisecond delay-fired cast blasts routinely produce seismic signals that have significant spectral modulations below 10 Hz. These modulations are independent of time, the azimuth from the source and the orientation of the sensor. Low-frequency modulations below 5 Hz are seen beyond 9°. The modulations are not due to resonance as they are not produced by the calibration shots. Linear elastic modeling of the blasts that is guided by mine-blast reports fails to reproduce the fine detail of these modulations but clearly indicates that the enhanced “spectral roughness” is due to long interrow delays and source finiteness. The mismatch between the data and the synthetics is likely due to source processes, such as nonlinear interactions between shots, that are poorly understood and to other effects, such as variations of shot time and yield from planned values, that are known to be omnipresent but cannot be described accurately. A variant of the Automated Time-Frequency Discriminant (Hedlin, 1998b), which uses low-frequency spectral modulations, effectively separates these events from the calibration shots.¶The experiment also provided evidence that kiloton class cast blasts consistently yield energetic 2–10 second surface waves. The surface waves are strongly dependent on azimuth but are seen beyond 9°. Physical modeling of these events indicates that the surface waves are due mainly to the extended source duration and to a lesser extent to the slap-down of spalled material. The directionality is largely a path effect. A discriminant that is based on the partitioning of energy between surface and body waves routinely separates these events from the calibration shots.¶The Powder River Basin has essentially no natural seismic activity. How these mining events compare to earthquake observations remains to be determined.
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