Application of a mesh-free continuum method for simulation of rock caving processes
Understanding the caving process and material flow is fundamental to block and sublevel cave mining, and also to longwall mining in sedimentary deposits. In this paper, the application of a mesh-free method, called Smoothed Particle Hydrodynamics (SPH), is demonstrated for simulating rock caving in a stratified deposit. The advantages for simulating caving processes using a mesh-free numerical framework are highlighted. Two different examples are chosen, one with elastic-brittle material behaviour with large yield strength (failure by brittle fracture) and the other with elasto-plastic material behaviour with relatively lower yield strength to allow ductile deformation of the rock mass. The modelling results capture the mechanistic aspects observed in caving processes. It is shown that the large-scale deformation and the associated fracture processes in caving can be effectively simulated using SPH. In the authors' knowledge, this work is the first attempt in demonstrating the application of a mesh-free method for simulating caving processes. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.