ABSTRACT

Inrushes of ground water and the ignition of flammable gases pose risks to workers in deep South African gold mines. Large volumes of water may be stored in solution cavities in dolomitic rocks that overlie the Black Reef (BLR) Formation, while there are several possible sources for methane, namely, coal seams, kerogen found in some gold ore bodies, or methane introduced by igneous intrusions. Potential conduits that may transport water and methane to underground workings were mapped using 3D reflection seismic data. Edge detection attributes successfully identified many faults, some with displacements as small as 10 m. Faults that displace the Ventersdorp Contact Reef (VCR) and the BLR horizons were of special interest, as known occurrences of fissure water and methane in underground workings show a good correlation with faults that were imaged on the VCR and BLR horizons. Because there are uncertainties in determining the linkage of faults with aquifers and methane sources, it is considered prudent to assume that all structures that displace the VCR and BLR horizons are potential conduits.

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