Slope failures do not occur spontaneously. There is scientific reasoning for each failure. Real-time site monitoring allows mine operators to plan and implement appropriate proactive actions with sufficient notice to support safer working environments, ongoing operations, engineering, and planning.
Highwall investigation techniques and stability assessments serve as our best method to minimize hazards before they become an issue. Heightened awareness and close monitoring of environmental and site changes throughout the year, especially during spring and fall rains, is invaluable.
Active attention to early warning signs from highwalls such as tension cracks, loose material, or abnormal water flow can signal that a significant geohazard event is imminent. A regular inspection and maintenance program to formally review changes in geological conditions and observed ground control issues helps to develop early recognition protocols.
Highwall surface monitoring systems can include radar systems, robotic total station systems, and surveying target prisms. Subsurface measurements can incorporate inclinometers, time domain reflectometry, and borehole extensometers to collect data on rock mass displacement. Across areas where access cannot be maintained or guaranteed for safety, monitoring equipment acquires data from a safe position offering real-time data for engineering and operational decision making. Monitoring can also be used to evaluate the effectiveness of a newly constructed buttress, key zones to dewater, or the impact of a drainage diversion against its effectiveness in reducing slope movement.
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In June, GeoStabilization received a phone call about 7:30 am that KY 221 had slipped down the hillside creating a large drop in the pavement.