The detection of joints and discontinuities is of particular importance to the stability of a broad range of geostructures, including slopes and underground and open-pit mines. As a common example, the mechanical response of soft rocks observed within open-pit mines is significantly influenced by the existence of joint networks, resulting in a complex stress distribution that governs the stability factor of safety as well as the failure mechanism. In this article, surface geophysics scanning by ground penetrating radar (GPR) is presented for the detection of vertical joints at one of the largest open-pit coal mines in Australia. The optimum soil velocity, point interval, and antenna frequency for joint detection in Victorian Brown Coal (VBC) are presented in comparison with electromagnetic properties of known organic soils. Furthermore, the performance of an assorted set of post-processing signal filtering techniques to successfully identify the underground coal fractures are detailed, along with obstructions affecting the feasibility of GPR vertical joint discovery in this light organic soft rock.
Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources, DSDBI The second and third authors are funded by the Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) and the GHERG scholarship programme.