Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Mark, C and Gadde, M, Global trends in coal mine horizontal stress measurements, in Aziz, N (ed), 10th Underground Coal Operators' Conference, University of Wollongong & the Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, 2010, 21-39.


Knowledge of in situ stresses is fundamental to many studies in earth sciences, and coal mine ground control is no exception. During the past 20 years, it has become clear that horizontal stress is a critical factor affecting roof stability in underground coal mines. The theory of plate tectonics and the World Stress Map (WSM) project has been extremely helpful in explaining the sources and the orientations of the horizontal stresses observed underground. Recently, WSM geophysicists studying deep-seated stresses have developed a model of how stress magnitudes vary with depth in the crust. They have devoted relatively little attention to near-surface stresses, however. This paper explores the relationships between deep-seated and shallow in situ stresses in several of the world’s coalfields, using a data base of more than 350 stress measurements from underground coal mines. The analysis indicates that distinct regional trends exist, corresponding roughly to the regional stress fields identified by the WSM. The paper presents equations for estimating stress magnitudes that were developed by treating depth and elastic modulus as independent variables in regression analysis. The magnitude of the horizontal stress increases with depth, at rates that range from 0.8 to 2.0 times the vertical stress, just as the WSM “critically stressed crust” model predicts. Overall, it seems that the stress regimes encountered in underground coal mines are closely linked to those that exist deep in the earth’s crust.