Design Methods to Control Violent Pillar Failures in Room-And-Pillar Mines


The sudden, violent collapse of large areas of room-and-pillar mines poses a special hazard for miners and mine operators. This type of failure, termed a 'cascading pillar failure' (CPF), occurs when one pillar in a mine layout falls, transferring its load to neighboring pillars, which causes them to fail, and so forth. Recent examples of this kind of failure in coal, metal and non-metal mines in the U.S.A. are documented. Mining engineers can limit the danger presented by these failures through improved mine design practices. Whether failure occurs in a slow, non-violent manner or in a rapid, violent manner is governed by the local mine stiffness stability criterion. This stability criterion is used as the basis for three design approaches to control cascading pillar failure in room-and-pillar mines the containment approach, the prevention approach and the full extraction mining approach. These design approaches are illustrated with practical examples for coal mining at shallow depth.


Mining Engineering

Document Type

Article - Journal

Document Version


File Type





© 1997 Institution of Mining and Metallurgy (IOM3), All rights reserved.

Publication Date

01 Jan 1997

This document is currently not available here.