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Flooding analysis and slope stability assessment due to a confined aquifer in the Elbistan-Çöllolar open cast mine

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2009
Yoncacı, Selin
Groundwater can be a critical issue to be considered in civil engineering, mining engineering and interdisciplinary fields. Karstic structures and aquifers enclosing groundwater are potential risks in case they are not studied in detail. Enclosed groundwater can result in floods at pit bottom or can cause instabilities of permanent pit slopes. This study is about analyses of flooding possibility at the pit bottom and possible instabilities of pit slopes in the Elbistan-Çöllolar open cast coal mine due to the presence of a karstic aquifer under the lignite formation. Thickness and permeability of the bottom clay formation under the lignite bed are necessary critical parameters for investigating a possible water rush from a confined aquifer in limestone formation underneath the bottom clay. These parameters were changed, and water flow quantities towards the pit bottom were determined by finite element models. Critical values of these parameters were investigated considering the lack of accurate site investigation information regarding the thickness and permeability of bottom clay. Possible strength loss, fracturing, and thus permeability increase in bottom clay due to a confined aquifer were studied. In flooding and slope stability analyses Phase2 software based on finite element method is used. Results of analyses showed that as reported thickness of bottom clay is around 120 m at the pit bottom and permeability values are in orders of magnitudes of 10-8 m/s, no serious flooding problems are expected to occur unless the thickness of bottom clay layer drops down to around 20 m, and the permeability of this layer reaches an order of magnitude of 10-5 m/s. Mechanical effects of confined aquifer on slopes and bottom clay displacements were investigated, and thus fracturing and failure possibilities of bottom clay and permanent slope were assessed. Slope and pit bottom displacements increased to meter levels for less than 60 m bottom clay thicknesses. Whereas 50-60 m bottom clay thickness can be critical for cracking, 20 m bottom clay thickness was found to be critical for water rush to the pit bottom. With reported bottom clay thickness of 120 m and with 25o slope angle permanent slope factor of safety was found to be 1.2, and this value was not effected unless clay layer thickness drops below 70 m levels. Higher than 32o overall slope angle there will be a risk of slope failure for permanent and production slopes, reflected by safety factors less than one, in the stability analyses.