Experimental Investigation on the Mechanism of Coal and Gas Outburst: Novel Insights on the Formation and Development of Coal Spallation

Publication Name

Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering


The fragmentation of coal produces abundant coal gases and is presumed to be the defining characteristic of coal and gas outbursts. Knowing the mechanism of these catastrophic hazards is one of the most important breakthroughs in mining geology. In the outburst process, coal spallation represents a unique failure type and typically leaves behind a spallation area (with a series of fracture textures) in the coal seam. Revealing its features and formation mechanism is crucial in accurately interpreting the outburst process. In this study, we conducted a series of outburst experiments with different gases, including CO2, N2, and He. We establish that a spallation area can develop spontaneously during CO2 and N2 tests, whereas an outburst caused by He tests (even under stressed conditions) does not produce a spallation area. That is, the spallation area cannot be observed in non-absorbable gas outbursts. We, therefore, focus on the role of coal gas in spallation and propose a viable mechanism to explain its formation. During the outburst development stage, the influence of gas ad-/desorption is critical, as it controls the width of the spallation area and the spallation thickness. In contrast, stress is not a necessary condition. Whether a spallation area will be produced is particularly determined by the generation of a sufficient internal pressure gradient. Moreover, because of gas desorption, the total outburst energy can be increased by 1.84–5.30 times; and the mean outburst propagation velocity and the mean frequency of coal spallation ejected can be enhanced by 0.38–8.76% and 1.28–12.07%, respectively. Consequently, the destructiveness of outbursts depends on the contribution of desorbed gas.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Natural Science Foundation of China



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