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A Comparison of Traditional, Step-Path, and Geostatistical Techniques in the Stability Analysis of a Large Open Pit

John Mayer, D. Stead
Thursday, December 1, 2016
First presented: 
Rock Mechanics and Rock Engineering
Published paper

With the increased drive towards deeper and more complex mine designs, geotechnical engineers are often forced to reconsider traditional deterministic design techniques in favour of probabilistic methods. These alternative techniques allow for the direct quantification of uncertainties within a risk and/or decision analysis framework. However, conventional probabilistic practices typically discretize geological materials into discrete, homogeneous domains, with attributes defined by spatially constant random variables, despite the fact that geological media display inherent heterogeneous spatial characteristics. This research directly simulates this phenomenon using a geostatistical approach, known as sequential Gaussian simulation. The method utilizes the variogram which imposes a degree of controlled spatial heterogeneity on the system. Simulations are constrained using data from the Ok Tedi mine site in Papua New Guinea and designed to randomly vary the geological strength index and uniaxial compressive strength using Monte Carlo techniques. Results suggest that conventional probabilistic techniques have a fundamental limitation compared to geostatistical approaches, as they fail to account for the spatial dependencies inherent to geotechnical datasets. This can result in erroneous model predictions, which are overly conservative when compared to the geostatistical results.


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