Two- and three-dimensional rock-penetrating-radar data were acquired on the wall of a pillar in an underground limestone mine. The objective was to test the ability of radar to image fractures and karst voids and to characterize their geometry, aperture, and fluid content, with the goal of mitigating mining hazards. Strong radar reflections in the field data correlate with fractures and a cave exposed on the pillar walls. Large pillar wall topography was included in the steep-dip Kirchhoff migration algorithm because standard elevation corrections are inaccurate. The depth-migrated 250 MHz radar images illuminate fractures, karst voids, and the far wall of the pillar up to approximately 25 m depth into the rock, with a spatial resolution of <0.5 m. Higher frequency radar improved the image resolution and aided in the interpretation, but at the cost of shallower depth of penetration and extra acquisition effort. Due to the strong contrast in physical properties between the rock and the fracture fluid, fractures with apertures as thin as a 50th of a radar wavelength were imaged. Water-filled fractures with mm-scale aperture and air-filled fractures with cm-scale apertures produce strong reflections at 250 MHz. A strong variation in the reflection amplitude along each fracture is interpreted to represent the variable fracture aperture and the nonplanar fracture structure. Fracture apertures were quantitatively measured, but distinguishing water from air-filled fractures was not possible due to the complex radar wavelet and fracture geometry. Two conjugate fracture sets were imaged. One of these fracture sets dominates the rock mass stability and water inrush challenges throughout the mine. All of the detected voids and a large cave are at the intersection of two fractures, indicating preferential water flow and dissolution along conjugate fracture intersections. Detecting, locating, and characterizing fractures and voids prior to excavation can enable miners to mitigate potential collapse and flood hazards before they occur.

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