Understanding coal rib geomechanics is essential for improving rib stability and eliminating fatality and injury trends due to rib failures. There are presently no standardized rib control practices available in most countries. In light of this observed dearth, this investigation aims to improve understanding of rib failure mechanisms using the distinct element modeling (DEM) technique. DEM is chosen because of its superior advantage to explicitly represent discontinuities and their constitutive behaviors, besides that of the intact rock matrix. To analyze the rib stability, a numerical monitoring protocol is implemented to monitor the deformation characteristics of the coal rock mass as its strength is gradually reduced and the deformation and safety factors are established. A number of scenarios were considered in the modeling process, including a non-cleated rib, a cleated rib, and the interaction between support and coal mass. The main conclusions drawn from the study were that the rib failure process initiated with tensile and shear cracks which coalesced to form predominantly sub-parallel tensile fractures to the rib line; and joints and defects in the rib limit fracture development and propagation. The depth of fracture was found to be ~ 1.14 m for the cleated rib and ~ 1.40 m for the non-cleated rib. The depth of softening (DOS) for the cleated and non-cleated ribs was ~ 1.80 m and ~ 1.60 m, respectively. Also, the results demonstrated the capability of DEM-based bonded block models (BBM) in explicitly capturing the rock and support interactions which makes this solution to be suitable for investigating coal rib stability and support requirements.


Mining Engineering


National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Grant None

Keywords and Phrases

Assessing support requirement; Coal rib geomechanics; Coal rib stability; Depth of softening; Distinct element modeling

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

1434-453X; 0723-2632

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





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Publication Date

01 May 2022