The main purpose of the geotechnical instrumentation in a modern mine is to continuously monitor the status of rock, soil, and other geological formations in and around the mine. This is done to reduce the risk of a fall of ground (FOG) as much as possible from deformation due to mining.
There is, however, a secondary reason why it is a good idea to have a comprehensive, mesh sensor network based, monitoring system. Should something unexpected happen in the mine, the monitoring system will have stored valuable data.
Of course, mine managers and engineering staff at most mining operations work tirelessly to make their working environment as safe as possible. Unfortunately, though, there are just some things that we as human beings can’t control, and one of these things could unexpectedly affect a mine. An example of this would be natural events and phenomena like:
- A flood or very heavy rains in an area that could affect the stability and operations of the mine
- An earthquake or other seismic event
Because data moves continuously from the various sensors via the battery-powered wireless mesh sensor network to a LAN network and then to a PC, the system will keep on receiving and storing data even if an incident occurs.
If the unthinkable happens and there is a catastrophic event in the mine, e.g. a rock fall or tunnel collapse, there will be data available that can be analyzed – even if the sensors in the affected area are damaged or destroyed.
This information could prove to be invaluable in a post-incident geotechnical investigation. If investigators and engineers can understand how and why an incident occurred, then measures can be implemented to prevent, or at least limit the effect of, any future incidents.